A Prayer for Safe Travel
At Temple Beth Or’s Erev Shabbat service last Friday my associate Rabbi Ari Margolis offered a blessing for me as I embark on this journey to honor the memory of Rabbi Regina Jonas. Just a few weeks ago, I offered a prayer for Rabbi Margolis and those from the temple traveling to Israel in hopes of spiritual enlightenment and deepening connection to land and heritage. In contrast, Rabbi Margolis’ prayer Friday night had a more urgent feel to it. In those few weeks between these travelers’ prayers, Israel has gone from a period of relative calm to a country searching for the “Protective Edge.” And this past week Malaysian flight MH17, shot down mid-air by rocket missiles designed for warfare, shattered any illusion that one might cling to that the weapons of terror are just another distant chapter in that story of the world’s horrors.
The downing of that domestic air flight brought more than one blessing for my safe travels. My husband, my son, close friends, and acquaintances added their own words of caution and prayer. Though this heightened awareness of the fragility of life clearly correlates to the events of the last few weeks, the prayers also sharpen my awareness of the tragedy that eroded Rabbina Regina Jonas’ victory as the first to convince a yeshiva to ordain a woman rabbi. On the one hand, our journey will celebrate Jonas’ singular accomplishment as the first woman rabbi decades before the firsts of our collective, movements', women’s, and rabbinic history. On the other, we will grapple with the horrors of the Shoah that stole Regina Jonas's life. Her triumph in ordination, which rightly should have opened the door for generations of women to populate yeshivas and enrich Jewish communities, lay all but forgotten in the ashes—another one of the Six Million.
The terror striking today accentuates, all the more so, my desire to delve deeper into the life of this remarkable woman, not just as a rabbi, but as a person. It strikes a chord and ignites my resolve to remember the Six Million as more than the horror of their collective loss. It underscores the reason that we cannot simply lump together the 298 whose lives were snatched over the Ukraine as those caught up in a geo-political nightmare. Rather, every one of them, those who were murdered in the Holocaust decades ago and those who died at the hands of terror on the Malaysian plane, leaves a life unfinished. Each of them had a passion, each of them had a vision, aspirations, accomplishments . . .
Each of them had a name. As we will place a plaque for the courageous Rabbina Regina Jonas on our journey, we rescue her name, her legacy; we affirm the debt of gratitude that every woman rabbi owes to this one of the Six Million.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "A Prayer for Safe Travel." (Viewed on January 19, 2021) <https://jwa.org/rabbis/regina-jonas-remembered/prayer-for-safe-travel>.