The Malaysia Airlines plane that went missing somewhere over east Asia over the weekend had one Jewish passenger. Nikolai Brotzky, a 43 year old father of two, is on the plane that many believe has crashed or was forced to land in a remote area.
Brotzky is a resident of the Siberian town of Irkutsk, where he is a member of the Jewish community. According to reports from the region, Rabbi Aharon Cohen Wagner, who is Irkutsk's Chief Rabbi and a Chabad rabbi for the region, has been in constant touch with Brotzky's family since the plane was reported missing.
The plane, which carried 239 people, was seen suddenly heading back for Kuala Lampur about an hour after takeoff. Malaysia Airlines said Sunday that it was “fearing the worst.” Planes and boats from Vietnam resumed their search Sunday morning for remnants of the aircraft, which is believed to have crashed. There has not yet been a confirmed sighting of the plane or wreckage from the plane.
According to Rabbi Wagner, who knew Brotzky personally, he was an active member of the Jewish community. The community is very concerned over his whereabouts and have joined together in prayers for his safe return.
The reports said that Rabbi Wagner has been in touch with Russia's Chief Rabbi Bernard Lazar, discussing the halachic (Jewish legal) implications of Brotzky's disappearance. If the crash site isn't located or his body isn't found, rabbinic authorities will have to work to ensure his wife does not remain an aguna - a halachic status applying to women who wish to remarry but cannot, an issue can occur in such tragedies where the husband's death cannot be formally confirmed.