Dr. Ned Gaylin of Chevy Chase, Maryland, walked into the JCC of Rockville, Maryland together with his young grandson, Mike. There was an Israel Renaissance Fair scheduled for that day and they had decided to come see what Israeli products they could purchase to show support for their native country. After browsing the booths for a while, a scene at the other end of the hall caught Mike's eye.

"Look, Grandpa," he said, "The Kotel!"

There was a booth set up with a life-sized imitation of the Kotel (the Western Wall in Jerusalem) as the backdrop. Several rabbis were donning tefillin on men and teenage boys. Guests were snapping pictures in front of the "Kotel" as a souvenir. As they headed over to the booth, Rabbi Shlomo Beitch, a Chabad rabbi in Rockville, asked Dr. Gaylin if he would like to don a pair of tefillin. Having not done so since his Bar Mitzvah, Ned declined. Mike, however, was very excited about the "Western Wall" and they lingered around the booth for several minutes taking photographs.

As they walked away from the booth, Ned could not get the scene out of his head. As he stood from afar watching the action, he recalled an incident that had taken place twenty-eight years before.

It was the month of Tishrei, 1977, and I was in a Jerusalem market. There was a stand there selling etrogim (citrons), one of the Four Species used on the holiday of Sukkot. On impulse, though I was not religious, I decided to buy one for the holiday, yet I did not know how to choose one. What was everyone looking for so carefully? I asked the fellow standing next to me if he could help me out.

The rabbi finally got me to agree that I would put on tefillin at least once in my lifetime"There's a rabbi over there choosing one," he responded. "Ask him."

I took his advice and asked the rabbi if he could please help me choose an etrog. The rabbi struck up a conversation with me and said that he would gladly show me a beautiful etrog if I agreed to put on tefillin every morning, except Shabbat and the holidays, for the rest of my life. I laughed and said, "No thanks!" The rabbi finally got me to agree that I would put on tefillin at least once in my lifetime. He then gave me the etrog he had chosen for himself! I went home and never kept my end of the deal - I never put on a pair of tefillin.

Ned watched Rabbi Beitch and Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum, a Chabad rabbi in Gaithersburg, Maryland, assist others in donning their tefillin. The Kotel reminded him of all the terrorism and anxiety his brothers in Israel were living through. Now, at the age of 70, Dr. Gaylin decided it was time to do his part. It was time to fulfill the promise he had made twenty-eight years earlier. Ned walked over to Rabbi Tenenbaum and said with a tear in his eye, "Rabbi, could you please help me put on tefillin."