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Leaving On a Jet Plane: 3 Things to Do Before Traveling

Leaving On a Jet Plane: 3 Things to Do Before Traveling

Going on a trip this summer? Here are three actions to take if you or else someone you know is traveling.


Being part of a rabbi’s family, we’ve quickly learned that “here today, gone tomorrow” can happen to anyone, anytime, and so our family has started a tradition. When one of us is getting on an airplane, the last thing we do before taking off is to text the other members of the immediate family to say, “Taking off, I love you.” Because life is so full of randomness and unexpectedness, we take comfort in always sharing words of love when we depart each other’s company. It ensures that, God forbid something happens, our memories will be of love.


Whenever we depart on a trip, whether by plane or by car, I recite Tefilat Haderech, the travelers’ prayer. I keep a copy in my wallet, and I believe prayer works on many levels: I believe that by connecting into the Oneness we call “God,” I ensure wholeness within myself, a heightened awareness, and a hopefulness. Some say the prayer focuses us on what is truly important; others say it beseeches the Holy One to act on our behalf. Sometimes, I just like to hedge my bets.


What else might one do as a Jew or Jewish family when someone you know is traveling? Give a dollar to the traveler and tell him that by accepting this dollar, he becomes your shaliach mitzvah (your representative/agent on a mission of tzedakah or charitable giving). According to the rabbinic sages, someone who is en route to perform a mitzvah is given extra protection.

Do you or your family have any other pre-travel rituals, Jewish or otherwise? Share them in the comments section below!  

Rabbi Paul Kipnes the spiritual leader of Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, CA. He serves as rabbinic dean at URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, CA, and as vice president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Rabbi Kipnes and his wife Michelle November co-wrote Jewish Spiritual Parenting: Wisdom, Activities, Rituals and Prayers for Raising Children with Spiritual Balance and Emotional Wholeness (Jewish Lights). He also co-edited a national CCAR Journal issue on New Visions for Jewish Community. Under his leadership, Congregation Or Ami has won national awards for social justice programming, for innovative worship programming, for outreach to interfaith families, and for engaging family education, and for best overall use of technology in a synagogue. Or Ami also wins the hearts of its families for its Henaynu caring community, which reaches out during times of need. He serves on the Rhea Hirsch School of Jewish Education clinical faculty at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. His writings can be viewed on his blog, Or Am I? He tweets @RabbiKip.



Rabbi Paul Kipnes
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