I recently parted with something near and dear to my heart – my companion on many a Southern Jewish road trip: my car.
This car, a manual Mazda3, was passed down to me from my mother. It had seen me through to much. But it had also seen better days by the time my husband (gleefully) and I (tearfully) dropped it off at the Auto Auction. The paint had almost all peeled off. The driver’s side door was dented beyond repair. The roof didn’t close all the way, so it flapped in the breeze ever-so-slightly on the highway. But even still, what other people saw as flaws, I saw as quirks. But when it became hit-or-miss as to whether it would start every day, I finally gave in: it was time to let go.
So, as we sat together at the Auto Auction waiting for them to cut us a check and haul it away, I began to think about all that my car and I had been through together. It had heard me practice song after song for karaoke, seen my tears from teenage heartbreak, and gotten me from Florida (home) to Boston (college) to Mississippi (new home). As I replayed all the memories, I realized that my car had seen some pretty Jewish moments too.
When the car became mine, one of the first things I did was affix a car mezuzah to my door. I saw it as a symbol of protection, and, when it was time to give it up, I gingerly removed it. In high school, my car got me to and from youth group and NFTY events, and offered rides to other kids who wanted to get their Jewish on but didn’t have transportation. In college, my car road tripped from Florida to Boston and back again four years in a row, and got me around Boston while I deepened my knowledge of Judaism and Hebrew at Brandeis University. And, finally, my car brought me to Jackson nearly four years ago to begin working at the ISJL, and has served me faithfully in Southern and Jewish life.
Some time has passed now since I let my car go, and now I have a new one. We’re not close yet, but I have faith that we’ll bond, just like I did with my little Mazda. I know that, years from now, when it’s time for me to retire this car, I’ll be able to look back with fondness on the places it took me, the memories made, and the Jewish experiences it helped facilitate.