As he exited the bus and began walking through the city, he was definitely no longer in Tel Aviv. Buff, athletic-looking guys had been replaced by Orthodox Jews in skullcaps. The beach had been replaced by numerous yeshivas. Tel Aviv was a young city, less than two hundred years old; Jerusalem was more akin to an ancient wonder of the world. The climate was also a stark contrast compared to Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv had spring-like weather nearly year round, and limitless sun to accompany the beaches. Jerusalem was much colder, windier, and cloudier. If a dark apocalypse were ever to come thundering down from the heavens in this uber-Semitic New Jersey, it would be in Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv.
On one level, he believed that the climate enhanced the antiqueness of the city. Traditional Judaism was serious business. A city with a plethora of sun-filled beaches didn’t fit the bill as appropriately as this climate. The demands of traditional religion were not analogous to taking it easy on a beach; they were much more equivalent to walking through Jerusalem’s darker, windy streets. Practicing traditional religion involved giving up many temptations. For example, it was required to fast on Yom Kippur. Likewise, it was necessary to fight cold winds and more frequent inclement weather in Jerusalem. Any religion that did seem equivalent to beach chilling should be regarded with the utmost suspicion, he believed. As an atheist, he already regarded all religions with deep skepticism, but the skepticism was even more pronounced towards a beach bum kind of faith. If there were an afterlife, the admission ticket should require true diligence and grit. Any faith promising an undemanding beach ride surely was a scam.
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