My Jewish Pilgrimage

We got to the airport early…

3 hours early, to be exact. Monique’s Dad and my Mom dropped us off at the San Diego Airport and we quickly learned that our flight had been rerouted from Atlanta to New York. Luckily, we were early enough to get some seats.

After paying exorbitant fees on our bags and getting an extra special pat-down from TSA for refusing their cancer-causing x-ray contraptions, we were well on our way to The Big Apple.

3 episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and a bag of peanuts later…

We land at JFK, hike 5 miles from one end of the airport to the other and get our first taste of a foreign culture when an Alitalia desk clerk takes our passports to a back room and comes back 15 minutes later with hand-written boarding passes. Grazie!

The Italians were anxious to get back to Italy… there was already a huge line to get on the plane before they were even boarding. People watching, I observe that Italians dress much nicer than Americans.

“How can I help you, you filthy animal?”

That’s what American flight attendants ask you when you take American-owned airlines. Not so on Alitalia! The men and women flight attendants were handsome, friendly, and all-too eager to help. Instead of giving me a dirty look for bringing a big box as a carry-on, the stewardess asks me what it is (a computer) and finds an extra special compartment to place it in.

You eat like a king on an Alitalia flight… wine, coffee, dinner, dessert, breakfast, more wine, more coffee… Bellisima!

The Jewish Rabbi sitting behind me smelled like he’d been peeing on himself for a while…

It was overpowering at times, but I got used to the smell by living near so many homeless people in downtown San Diego.

He made a mess in the restroom and was blessing it when we walked onto the plane. He blessed it several times on our trip. It felt good to be sitting near such a blessed toilet.

There were a lot of Jewish people on the plane…

They were heading to Israel. When they turned the lights out on the plane, I could hear the Rabbis behind us speaking Yiddish. Being the impressionable young man I am, I imagined I was taking a pilgrimage to the promised land.

At one point, I think one of the Rabbis was even blessing me… at least I hope that’s what he was doing when he reached from his seat behind me and started rubbing my biceps. “Thank you, Rabbi, now I can sleep peacefully”… when we wake up, Rome!

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