French Fries at the Wailing Wall

I just saw the news that our president was in Jerusalem. The item I viewed told about the security necessary to keep the visit safe. During the news piece, they showed footage of the Wailing Wall (also known as the Western Wall). It reminded me of my own trip to Israel.

Going to Israel was one of the high points of my life. As we like to say, I’d go back in a heartbeat. There were so many emotional moments along the way; I couldn’t recount them all for you. Interestingly enough, the Wailing Wall wasn’t one of them.

I was at the Wall, and I prayed there. I even got my picture taken with my hand on the wall, bowing in prayer. As interesting and historical as it is, it still wasn’t one of the highlights of my trip.

“There are many ignoramuses like me.”

I’m not exactly sure why that is, but I’m pretty sure my headgear was part of the problem. Since the Western Wall is considered a holy site, everyone is required to cover his or her head. There were days on my trip that I wore a ball cap. On this day, however, I went without any head covering.

The Israeli’s are well aware that there are many ignoramuses like me who show up unprepared. In order to avoid any problems, they mete out free head coverings for anyone who doesn’t have one. This is where my Wall problem occurred.

Do you remember the old-fashioned, cardboard, French fry plates? You still see them around once in awhile; but these days, they’ve gone to a smaller, more streamlined version in most cases. When I was a kid, French Fries always came in the old, larger models (primarily because they gave you a lot of fries in those days).

Anyway, the head coverings we baldies received that day were similar to those old French fry plates. In fact, I think they were leftovers from the 1950s. I kept looking around for a hot dog stand, but I didn’t spot any. I was pretty sure my head would be greasy when I was finished praying. A little salt was expected as well.

A bobby pin was in order.

As it turns out, my hair was none the worse for wear when all was said and done. This, however, was not the worst of it. Picture yourself putting a French fry holder on your head.

Putting it there was not a big deal. Even I can handle the logistics of placing a cardboard hat (sic) on my head. The real trick, however, was keeping it there. At least the women could reach into their purses and pull out a bobby pin to hold theirs in place. I, on the other hand, was out of luck.

I spent the rest of my time at the Wall holding on to my hat (literally). I don’t remember what I prayed about that day (probably about ten seconds). All I can remember is, I was really hungry for French fries when I was finished.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

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