Jack is a real-life version of Superman, or perhaps Indiana
Jones; of Isaiah the Prophet, or perhaps James Bond. Actually, it
seems that he’s all of these in one: A man of visions and dreams,
who sometimes simply forgets to wake up. A modern nomad, from
a broken family, with a Jewish mother and a Druze stepfather, who
bounced between orphanages and foster families, dreaming of the
day he’d save the world and everyone would acknowledge his
Today he’s driving for Uber and Lyft, making friends with his
passengers, collecting a plethora of adventures and new stories,
inundating them with his experiences: Two roller-coaster decades,
repeatedly crashing to the ground and miraculously returning to
charge, full steam ahead, towards the next destination.
From dizzying success to failure and bankruptcy, the listeners are
astonished at an almost illogical array of stories, globe-spanning
contacts and hair-raising experiences.
Jack’s tale zigzags aggressively between reality and fiction which
combine to create a deranged tableau, provoking all who listen to
thought and wonder. At times the passengers or listeners
themselves become part of the story, and at others they are just an
itinerant ear for Jack’s need for recognition and the fruition of his
mission to the world – to do good, and if possible – make a little
money en-route to happiness.
So who are you, Jack?
Father unknown, mother made Aliya at a tender age and found
herself left with three children whom she was unable to raise in the
Jerusalem slums. She married a Druze young man, and the children
who, like their mother, were subjected to harsh treatment and even
abuse, found themselves slowly estranged from the only parent
they had left.
Jack bounced around educational institutions, was thrown in a
particularly tough Ultra-Orthodox orphanage, from there to an
abusive foster home and then to a youth village, where the spirit of
adventurism began to take root in his soul. He met surprising
characters, moved between different homes, enlisted in the IDF
and then boarded a plane to America in search of his dream.
The land of unlimited opportunity became, for Jack, the place
where the wild things roam. He was a tireless entrepreneur, found
himself collaborating with law enforcement and intelligence
organizations, caught criminals, and crisscrossed America over
and over. He started businesses, went broke, started others, went
broke again, and halfway to nowhere found the kind of dizzying
success that only great entrepreneurs encounter; a combination of
genius and luck, probably.
A brief visit to Yad VaShem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum, changes
his life, and Jack uses his momentary success, in selling a small
company to a huge corporation, to finance the greatest, craziest
adventure – Syria. “Never Again,” says this Jewish citizen of Israel
to himself, as he enters terrorist-infested Syria time and time
again, in an attempt to save refugees.
“Never Again,” he whispers to himself on sleepless nights, as he is
almost abducted twice, and a price-tag of millions is placed on his
head. “Never Again,” he says for a third time – but too late – as he
discovers that his kind heart has been exploited by various people
and entities, who make all his money vanish within a few short
But Jack wouldn’t stop. In his mind he was already framing the
next goal: A Middle-Eastern version of peace on earth – an
agreement between the various Kurdish factions, and between
them and the Turks. He made proposals, drafted ideas, forged
almost unimaginable ties with powerful regional leaders, until he
was once again left penniless and went back to square one.
Jack flavors his stories with humor and dramatic descriptions,
which sometimes sound to his passengers – and his own family –
like classic schizophrenic delusions: The surreal meeting in a hot
tub with a bunch of naked Bedouins, The dinner and fast friendship
with the exiled Syrian leader, the negotiations for permits to export
Kurdish oil, the kidnapping, the mystery rendezvous with
intelligence operatives all over the world.
But as God is our witness, all these stories really did happen. In
some the details have been changed in order to protect the safety
and wellbeing of others and of Jack himself, and in some literary
license, alive and well in Jack’s mind and soul, was taken as he
enthusiastically told the stories to passengers, friends and kin.
In another time, Jack could have been the protagonist of a biblical
story. Here he is like King Saul in reverse, seeking a crown and
finding asses, searching for oil and finding nothing but trouble;
There he is like Moses, standing before the burning bush, asking
where his God is. Here he is making peace in heavens, and there
he is calling for help from the depths.
Concurrently, he’s a real-life superhero. A walking Indiana Jones
adventure with the mission and commitment of a James Bond...
along with occasional touches of Mr. Bean.
Jack falls down and gets back up as frequently as others change
clothes. Always with a smile, always with faith; always with a story.
To a large degree, his story is the existential struggle that takes
place in the soul of every person – between reality and
imagination, between obligations and the need for freedom,
between ideals and the clash with the cold routine.
In his experiences and stories, Jack breaks conventions and offers
a different way of viewing the world and acting within it: Through
experience. Without truth or lies, without what’s possible and what
is not, without what’s permissible and what’s forbidden – only
what’s right or wrong.
Let every reader ask themselves, where they place themselves on
this spectrum. What would they be willing to do in order to save the
lives of others, on the other side of the globe, and whether one can
remain silent when faced with the horrors of war and murder.
Likewise, the readers will examine how far they would be willing to
go, and what dreams they still have left unfulfilled, before their
life’s journey is done.
Jack chose to go all the way, and a bit further, until he reached the
edge. Now he comes full circle, and at the end of every day he
goes back to his secluded home in the hills of New Jersey, to his
three children and his beloved wife.
For years she has maintained her love for him, remaining faithful
although she herself slowly became part of his adventures,
suffering from his falls. No less than an adventure story, this is an
extraordinary love story.
The book ״Looking for God (good) in Syria" was written from the viewpoint of his
wife, and that of the passengers he picks up and drops off, and
only lastly through the eyes of Jack himself.
In every chapter, each of the passengers reveals another
adventure which Jack has shared with him, and slowly his life’s
story and the travails he has endured are revealed to us. Only at
the end is the full, true picture exposed in a sort of whirlwind
Rashomon in which laughter and tears, joy and pain, love, passion
and anger are mixed together.
The book is scheduled to be published in 2021 in English, Arabic, Hebrew, and French.
Author: Moti Kahana.
Author’s note: A true story? Or the mind of a mad man?