How I Won a Marathon in Israel

Cheating Always Helps, Especially in the Holy Land

Wining Form: Tuvia Tenenbom heads for the finish line.
Isi Tenenbom
Wining Form: Tuvia Tenenbom heads for the finish line.

By Tuvia Tenenbom

Published January 19, 2014, issue of January 24, 2014.
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There are two Meccas, one in Saudi Arabia and the other, you’ll never guess, in Israel. The one in Saudi Arabia is for Muslim pilgrims, the one in Israel is for journalists. There are more journalists in this little part of the world than cats.

And, believe you me, there is no place on the planet with so many cats as Israel. In plainer terms, to give you a better picture, for the most part Israel is inhabited by cats and journalists. Everywhere you go you see one of them, and usually one standing in the way of the other.

This reality, obviously, makes Israel a good place to study journalism. Here, you see the craft of journalism taking shape.

I’m in Nazareth, a city inside Israel’s so-called Green Line, meaning the one before 1967. No U.N. here, no disputes here, no Israeli army rule here. No settlers here. Or, to be more exact: no Jews here. A Jew who wants to buy a home here better forget it because no one will sell it to him. Yet, this doesn’t mean that no Jew can do business here. And so, one day a Jew came up with an idea: the Jesus Trail.

Like many other Jewish inventions, this one is also a little complicated, but the short and sweet of it is this: a 65-km Jesus Christ walk, on a path that will take you a few days. What the trail comprises doesn’t really matter, and the Jewish businessman isn’t a Jesus believer to start with, but it will cost you $1,000 or so to compete. People of our day and time like sports mixed with a little spirituality.

Enter journalism. In front of me, at a local hotel’s reception area, stands a man who is taller than Jesus and weighs more than God. He is a British journalist, he tells me, and he is in town to write a special report on the Jesus Trail. I examine him intently: He gets up from his chair, walks five steps to the cake table, which entails a considerable effort as his face immediately fills up with sweat. I say nothing.


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