Terminology and Tires

Today’s rant:  Someone sent me a video of an American Jew proudly talking about praying at the “Wailing Wall.”  Fer cryin’ out loud!  The Western Wall (hakotel, or simply “the wall” in Hebrew) is the only surviving wall of the Second Temple.  It was dubbed the “Wailing Wall” by General Louis Jean Bols, one of the most notoriously anti-Semitic British leaders of the Mandate period, and that is really saying something.  Bols sneeringly referred to hakotel as the place where “all those *expletive* Jews go to wail.”  Despite its wide use, it is still insulting when used by outsiders, and is even more disgusting when mouthed by a Jew.  Don’t let our enemies apply labels to our most holy places!  (I’ve also heard this attributed to Sir Herbert Samuel, the first High Commissioner, but most archives seem to support the theory that it was Bols.)

And while we are on the subject, it pains me to hear Jews refer to the Kinneret as the “Sea of Galilee.”  Perfectly nice term for Christians to use, but why should Jews use a term that has only to do with Christian references, and is not the proper name of the lake?  (And yes, it is a freshwater lake, not a sea.)  I get ticked off when I hear Israeli tour guides using the wrong name with their groups (unless it is something like a Christian church tour).

Names matter.  ‘Nuf said.

Tires: Dead flat tire greets me this morning, in the rain.  I hoof it to a meeting.  When I return, I tackle the damn thing and, on a dubious spare, limp cautiously in to Tzmigei Yossi. I’ve yet to wear down the treads of any tire here; the blazing hot summer sun usually dries out and eats through the sidewalls before the tread even starts to go!  In this case, a wonkin’ big screw has caused one puncture, and on site we discover that the rubber has rotted out around another tire’s valve.  That could have been a nasty highway blowout.  Yossi says, “Elohim!!!” and goes into a huddle with two of the grease monkeys.  There is much animated discussion and wild hand-waving.  Two more guys come over to stare at the valve and remark on my near escape.  I hear Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian.  “God sent that screw so that you would notice this other tire in time,” says Yossi.  Not sure that I buy that, but I am never-the-less glad to have caught the problem.


2 responses to “Terminology and Tires

  1. Wow! Thank you so much for the “names” lesson, my dear. I was completely unaware of either reference, especially the story about how “The Wall” became known as “The Wailing Wall.” That’s really creepy! Never again will I refer to “The Wall” or Kinneret inappropriately. And, I promise to educate those around me, Christian and otherwise, when they inaccurately refer to those places.

    As to your tire, “stuff” happens for a reason. Whether it was “God” or “the Universe” or “syncrhonicity,” I agree that the screw in the tire was there to save you from the potential blowout. Hooray for the Intelligent-Order-In-The-Universe saving my friend!!

  2. Judy, go ahead and call the Kinneret the Sea of Galilee, if you prefer, but definitely switch to the Western Wall (vs. the “Wailing Wall”). And yes, by all means explain to others the ugly roots of that so-casually-used name. Onward!

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