Monday, April 30, 2007

Alien Life


I'm enjoying living in a constant climate all day. What I mean of course is the fact the the weather is so moderate outside- that there is hardly a difference between the temperature inside vs. out. The only difference is that my freckles play mating games on my face because of the stark sunshine.
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Tel Aviv has a plethora of quirky people. I've noticed it more this week than I ever have. Mostly due to the fact that the sun is shining and freckles are in mating season- I've also noticed that the middle aged women of Tel Aviv, Merkaz suddenly think they are 25 again and wear the spandex to prove it.
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The last time I wore spandex, it had to be in the 90s when everyone was wearing neon wind shorts and the black spandex shorts underneath with a fat neon stripe on the side. Usually, I would couple it with some sort of cheerleading t-shirt and a matching neon hair bow sprayed in place with my Aqua-net in pink, not the white.
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Here the ongoing style for the average 55 -year old female is the following: Deep red hairdye, leathery tan, pastel spaghetti -strapped tanktop and some sort of loud spandex pants with matching plastic bracelets making a clinkety-clank sound as they shake their hips strutting down Diesengoff.
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I found myself impressed with a stunning blond walking towards a friend and I. A bit envious of her rack which was bigger than mine could ever strive to be, her hips were slim and her lips full. As she came closer, bile came up on my throat to realize that her lips were significantly larger than her head itself and her face was stretched back to make her 62- year old self seem 25. Bile. Right up my esophagus.
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Yesterday, I witnessed a plump man reciting poetry into a mic. His striped shirt had an iron stain right on his chest and he wore an eyepatch. Put a smile on my face.
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I was reviewing my Brechots since I converted and noticed there is a special Brechot in case one sees a deformed person or monstrous creature: "m'shaneh habriyos". I am certain now that the sages anticipated the botox, saline, and all other alien life that is breeding in this White City that I call home.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Happy birthday to me

When I look back on these past two years, I do not look back with a sense of self- I look back on them with a lot of pain, self reflection, confusion- dancing, laughing, sleep, lack of sleep- stomach aches, existential crisis, and chocolate. There is no recipe of how i remember this struggle that i will sum up as Israel.
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But, when i do look back on the past couple years, I look back with a sense of awe. In so many ways, I still feel like a kid. I also realize that the decisions I have made for myself and my future were very adult.
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Once upon a time, I set out to become the person I am now. This story may have come to a beautiful ending this week as I dipped my body into the Mikveh and took on a new faith- but it is far from that, to this day- I came into being through much happiness and support, as well as tears.
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I sit here now, on my couch with a sense of peace and awe of how much one can do for oneself when it needs to happen. I went from feelings of pure despair to a sense of being reborn. Do I feel different? not necessarily, but, for the first time in years, I feel like I have been granted a new start- and with that comes a community of loyal friends, who have witnessed me at my worst, and still think i am pretty entertaining.
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I could possibly be one of the most luckiest gals in the world.
xx

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dip Baby Dip

I've done some hardcore things in my life. From kayaking rivers to big for me to protesting to traveling to foreign lands by myself on a whim.
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I don't know if any one of those experiences compare to Monday morning at the Bet Din in Bnei Brak.
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Sitting on front of 9 Haredi Men, I assume most of them are Rabbi's, my lengthy interview begins. I wanted to throw up, my palms would go from shaky to sweaty, to cold and back to shaky. My heart was waiting for impending doom. My self esteem needed to be picked up from the floor at least twice.
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It was Yom Zikkaron, memorial day for the fallen soldiers. I asked Tsiki for a favor the night before- maybe he could be my crutch for Monday morning, these past two years have been tough enough.
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I go to the Mikva on Thurs. Yesterday has been the happiest day of my life in two years. I tell you one thing: poetry itself cannot express my sincere joy/happiness/excitement/anxiety I feel at this moment.
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All I know is that for whatever reason, my body has countered itself with a sickness in my throat and tummy. I wish myself better as I embark on the next steps in my life here in Israel.
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I tell you one thing, the last two years have taught me so much. On this day, April 25th, I lost Tsiki forever. Today, I greet myself with a new beginning.

xx

Friday, April 20, 2007

Letter to Tsiki

Dearest Tsiki,
Sometimes I wish your phone number still worked. That there was a phone line to wherever you are so I could just tell you all the things that have happened in the last two years. Last night, I sat on the couch with a friend of mine- a girl I went to Ulpan with. We sat back and grinned at all our friends laughing and drinking around us. These people, although I've only had a short time with them- well, we have a certain past together. We all came to Israel, went to Ulpan together- and made a home here. Israel is such a different place to me than before, I've laughed and cried and cried and cried and giggled and laughed.
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Growing up- we always want the life experiences that define us to be beautiful ones. The graduating from Uni, the traveling the world, the Peace Corps and the weddings and babies. Little sprinkles of Tinkerbell's. We never anticipate the scary things.
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Like losing You.
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I wanted to tell you that I am going to the Rabbinical Court on Monday and I am scared. I also know that if they decide that I am not ready, I've lost nothing. Nothing in my life will change. I will still learn twice a week. I will still keep the Hag'im, I will still keep Kashrut and Shabbat as best I can and I will still love Judaism and Israel and learn to find myself in this craziness we call life.
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Your death will not define me, but it has changed me. I've lived in such a higher level since two years ago and often it's become confusing, crushing, romantic, insane- but each an every moment I've lived, I've understood life in a different way. Even in your absence, your essence has been my aura, you're goodness- your purity. You're an angel to me, my best friend and my pain.
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Yom Zikkaron is only days away. The air has a sense of silence about it on this day. This is my 3rd Yom Zikkaron in Israel and I'll always feel lonely on that day. It's filled with memorials and documentaries of other young men that have fallen. Pictures of them in their green uniforms are everywhere and my heart has a scar with your emblem on it. The comforting thing is: the nation remembers you and the other boys. Their tears fall for the family you were never able to have and the lives that were cut too short.
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These wars, politicians..politics- cultural misunderstanding, religion- it all brews here in the middle east and it's so senseless to me. It's senseless because everyone deserves to go to school, have love, have many babies, gardens and more than one pair of shoes. Everyone deserves to call their mothers at night and tell them they love them and to go to the beach with their friends and to simply be.
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I'll be thinking of you as I always do, I hope you're thinking of us.
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xxx
Always,
susi

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Dream that Overstates the Obvious.

I'm riding my bike through Tel Aviv, but it's not just Tel Aviv. It's a mixture of any city that I have ever felt a connection to: little shops of Siegen-Berlin, Gas Stations of El Paso, cobble stones of Jerusalem, they are all part of this city that is Tel Aviv but not. I ride to a iron-fenced building, chain my bike in the parking lot. My Rabbi meets me outside of the doorway to a building that looks like a clinic. The chairs inside are the 70s orange bucket seat plastic chairs that we had in our cafeteria at Bixby Highschool.
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My Rabbi ushers me to take a seat in the 2nd to last chair in the 1st row. He goes to the plastic window and announces our appointment to the women sitting inside. "Any moment" he assures me as I realize it could be many moments and how I wish I brought a book to read or some study material.
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I am wearing a skirt that falls below my knees. My black boots cover the rest of my legs and my anxiety is replaced with more of a fierce outlook. I feel my insides toughen up in preparation for the meeting. My Rabbi leaves the room, I sit there, alone.. time passes, moments pass.. No one is around. I wait for hours. A couple random friends appear and vanish in the room through this time. The sun is setting outside. No one is around and I don't know who to call on. I wait and wait until the lamplight's outside flicker on and the small town that in my head is Tel Aviv brings in dusk.
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I'm not sure what to do, but I am certain everyone has forgotten about me. Why I am in this room?? I am not sure if anyone was interested in meeting me in the first place. That realization makes me feel lonely and I get up to leave. So I can return when the sun is shining again- maybe tomorrow will give me a better chance at obtaining a meeting. (why do I not check? Why did I not look in the building, check the rooms- try and find my Rabbi? Because in that moment in my dream, I don't feel that they even want me, or care that I have waited for hours and hours for them.)
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I go outside and unchain my bike. I ride the bumpy cobblestone road to my home? To take a break- get a coffee? My cell phone rings. "Susi!!" My Rabbi calls with urgency, "where are you?!!? They have been waiting for you all along.
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I turn my bike around, peddling faster and faster back up the rode that has turned into a hill. I didn't realize it the first time I rode to the meeting. But it was..a long road upwards. Even then, I treated the hill as if it was a flat road nevertheless and made it back to my Rabbi and my meeting.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

super tired.

This is possibly the busiest and most provoking month I've had in a long time. Work has lasted until the sun has threatened to set itself before my bike ride home. The sand is thick in the air- I thought I was flying into little bugs on the way home, passersby must have thought me insane for wearing my big sunglasses in the evening, but my contacts could no longer take the sand in the air.
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I've fallen into bed like a brick. Sleeping long and hard but not feeling safe. I assume it's from the meeting at the Rabbinical Court on Monday, i can hardly remember the last time i have felt so heartbroken and excited about something on this level. Sometimes, I feel the essence of the Ginrod will explode, underneath my skin- it will rupture and I won't be able to take all this craziness anymore. Then I remember: it's all for a reason, G-d told me a secret when I was grieving my hardest, that secret is enough fuel to get through all these moments where I am forced to act like an adult.
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My dreams are quite strong: A new house being built, large and spacious. He's living there too, in the other room. There are two kitchens: one is old and comfortable, the new one has beautiful, custom made cabinets, a large, old fashioned oven is brought in from the former kitchen. "It still works!!" exclaims my friends parents "it's a perfect addition to the kitchen!!" The living room has always been there, an old classic leather chair sits in the corner. A rug keeps the wooden floored room cozy and through the large bay window- the sun is setting.
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I am looking forward to napping throughout the weekend. At the moment I am occupied by the breaking news in the u.s. I'm am amazed to hear the reaction from those who support the right to bear arms.
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"People who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it their political hobby horse to ride, I've got nothing but loathing for them," Says the Governor of VA.
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I agree with my co-worker: Citizens need arms when their government can't protect them. Maybe my government should work on protecting their citizens. The U.S isn't the wild west anymore.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Riding to Myannmar

Summer and Winter in Israel have come to a Peace Agreement in the last week and agreed that they would allow a form of Spring to take the guest room in seasons. I remember last year's sun being much stronger and the air more heavy. This week, every time the sun is wrapped in a cloud, the air has a chilly cleanliness and I'm not mad at it.
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I finally purchased the bike I've been talking about getting for months and ever since, it's been my best friend. I am slightly reminded of endless days in the Peace Corps, with insufficient contact with my peers. I would take my bike and pick a rode and ride until my thighs told me to turn around. I would inevitably run into a hill tribe village and think i found a goldmine until I would see a small tour van of Anglo's riding into the same destination. It was then I realized how many traditions in my province were kept not for themselves, but for the money that came with the tourism. One day, I decided to ride to Burma, actually- one day i started riding and then realized i was 29 kilometers in, why not attempt to make it to Burma. Although i never rode to Burma, i still maxed out at 51 km in one day, luckily the rode was flat.
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I've realized the last month has been filled with loads of events. Beginning with a death, two memorials, a new boss at work, a birth, Passover, and following through with my meeting at the Rabbinical court next week as well as the Fallen soldiers/ Israel Independence day. I've had to learn to cope with myself on a week to week basis vs just being me. Until next Monday's appointment, I have decided to ride my bike a lot and reflect enough to know that the last two years has been a recipe meant only for me, and despite the fact that I may possibly be finished with my conversion (I'm not counting on it), it doesn't matter- I'm living the life i chose, with or without being accepted just yet. (nevertheless, I am still one stressed out homegirl!!)
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xx

Friday, April 13, 2007

TinkerBella

She came in the smallest package, tiny hands, tiny nose. I never realized how large my hands were until I touched her ears. I don't know the last time i've held something so new and precious. Tinkerbell is the newest addition to the people I consider family here. And as we went through the memorials, missing Tsiki together. We came out of Pesach with her. Tsiki's niece. He would have been so excited.
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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Countdown?

I understand now why my Rabbi wanted me to wait until after Passover to convert. He was probably convinced that once I experienced the holiday in true form, I would have my suitcases packed and running stright to the Pope's confession waiting list. If he thought that, he wasn't far from reading my mind at certain moments. Secretly, I wanted to open the cupboard of sold Chametz and wipe it all over my body, or blow up a baby pool right there in the living room and swim in it. I liked the whole wine thing, until there was just too much wine around and I couldn't bear to look at it anymore. Unopened bottles waited for my attention, but they stood there ignored. Well, until I was bored that is. Which took a few days, but definitely not all week.
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So, on the last day of Chag, that being Monday, I was hanging upside down on my couch, staring outside at the big, blue sky that overlooks the holiest land in the world and thought: "Whaaaat whaaaat whaaat am I doing??". "Is there a G-d?? What does he want from me? Just to be? Does G-d care if I'm a Jew or not, which pattern of life do I belong in?" I contemplated until there was too much blood in my head and my sinuses were clogging.
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In the past few days my dreams have been of: floods, waves, plagues, death- suffering souls, babies being born, a rock, water on this large rock, people out to get me, me getting those people instead, my climbing up large mountains, friends, those I've lost, going somewhere special, life boats, good looking taxi drivers.
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I figure these dreams out whilst listening to Ben Folds Five on my iPod on my 30 min bike ride to work. I stare at the flowering white and pink buds highlighting my bike path at 7:30 in the morning. The sky is a bit foggy with sand and is pink and pale. I've got goose bumps on my arms and I feel invited. I simply wait for my Rabbi to call.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Donor

Hi everybody,

A relative of mine, a 3 year old girl named Shalev, suffers from Leukimia.
She has undergone two bone marrow transplants during the last few months. Sadly, both have failed.

I'm not asking from you to undergo testing in order to find a possible doner, since it's a process that might take time, something she doesn't have.
Instead, I'm looking for people who are registered within the global list of bone marrow doners, so that a possible bone marrow donation can be found as quickly as possible.

I thank you very much,

-Dany

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ich liebe wine.

I like Pesach. I'm not so mad at it anymore. Judaism works for me because I am a huge advocate of change and challenges in every corner. It builds character. Pesach gives you the challenge for 8 days of changing the way you eat and spiritualizing a different aspect of your life.
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Pesach is the most complicated holiday in my book. "At least on Yom Kippur we don't even have to think about anything but Praying all day!" exclaims a friend. The Grocery stores are lined with plastic, easing our decision on what we should buy that is Kosher for Pesach. I've relied on baked chicken and instant mash potatoes.
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Let's talk about the wine. It's ALL on sale. Three for 100 shekels. Four for 100 shekels. Yarden, Binyamin, white, red, Muscat.. drink us! they say to me. Buy a set of bottles, get a special Yarden wine key. I am liking it.
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I place the bunch on the check out table. I double bag them, they fall through -right on my big toe. They do not break, I am grateful. In the U.S the store would replace the broken bottles due to faulty bags. I don't think Israeli supermarkets would give us that right.
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I come home, and proudly stock my wine rack. I've been a strict Cabernet girl since I could remember. After many wine classes and much upscale waitressing, a smooth cab makes my tongue watery, in Israel- I run into dry corks and chalky residue- maybe it's the storage, maybe the wine itself. Either way, all is forgiven as Pesach rolls around and corks have changed to plastic.
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I pretend I am a connoisseur of wine, I let it spin in my wine glass, I test it- curving my tongue and breathing in the aroma. "A hint of berries" I announce. "Oak barrel and slightly smoky." I state. I let the wine spin around my glass and watch the finger-like traces fall back into the glass. "Not too watery" I remark.
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I do not smell the cork- it's more a time consuming tradition than actually judging the quality of the wine. If the cork breaks, I attribute it to bad storage vs. the quality of the wine. How am I to know? One day I'll tour the vineyards to know a little more. Perhaps one day I'll be able to do the marketing up north for a vineyard. Have a little place with a lot of space and a hammock that I would name Lucille. I'd write Haiku's and have a large garden and some sheep. My dad would like that thought, the romance of land and space is a Doring trait.
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I cork my wine, and save it for another evening or reminiscing of wide open spaces and a piece of land.

Caesar Salad with a side of Feminism

I've been trying to convince my Israeli co-workers that a true Caesar Salad has Romaine lettuce in it. This is after attempting to educate the manager of the restaurant I ordered from: "I have a plastic bowl full of butter lettuce, four tomatoes, and a side of Caesar dressing" I have my co-worker explain to him in Hebrew. "I didn't pay 40 Shekels for butter lettuce Salad, I paid 40 Shekels for a C-A-E-S-A-R Salad.
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Romaine Lettuce.

Romaine Lettuce.

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You cannot give a customer Butter lettuce and four tomatoes and charge them an a**load for it.
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It's like advertising Pepperoni Pizza without the Pepperoni. Cottage Cheese without any Cottage. Peanut Butter Reese's with no Peanut Butter. Dark chocolate that is white. Makes no sense.
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They could have advertised it as "regular sh*t salad with Caesar dressing". or perhaps the"5 Shekel salad that we falsely advertise and charge 40."
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Secondly, I don't like the word Feminist. "I am a feminist" blah blah blah. "Independent woman" is fine, but the actually title of Feminist rings a dull thud in the Ginrod's earlobes. I think of that word and I think of body odor. Feminist. Body odor. Feminist body. Feminist Odor. Smoulder Smoulder, charcoals on a grill. There's a Barbecue tomorrow. I didn't know being a responsible female with principles needs a name. The connotation of the word makes it seem so ugly.
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At this moment, I could start a small revolution from the anger that builds between what Israeli's think of as a Caesar Salad and women that coin themselves openly as a feminist. Calling yourself a feminist doesn't change the world at all, but your name will. I'd much rather work on making a name for myself than resorting to titles.
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Get your own marquee HERE

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Anthem of a Ginrod

Pesach has come upon me once again. My third in Israel, my second actually celebrated. The memorial has passed. The other memorial has passed. The month is not over but the hardest days are already behind me. Conflicting feelings are carried on my shoulders, the beautiful days are like a facade to me, they do not cover the intense mood of my soul, but serve as a bit of a relief when it all becomes to heavy.
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I am extremely fortunate to be amongst friends. Each Pesach, I can look at the year behind me and "who would have ever thought?" passes through me. I am the luckiest gal on the side of the Dead Sea to have friends around me for moral support. They cannot change my soul during tough times, but are a warm blanket on a windy beach.
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Being a Sunday girl, Jewish Mysticism says those souls have a choice to be good or evil. That we fall naturally into one or the other. I think about that philosophy a lot, and I believe such a behavior in challenging situations makes sense. Every time a bad thought swims into my head, or certain levels of anger- I consciously counteract it with convincing myself of the good in the situation.
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My life in Israel needs no convincing. I am where I need to be- where I feel I belong best. For good and bad.
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A couple years ago, my bro sent me this song. "This is your anthem" he said. It's not really about the words, except for the second paragraph, but I think the melody of the song makes my heart tingle, like my sun burnt forehead.
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Next year in Jerusalem!
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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Memories During a Memorial

Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all -The pleasures of love are still greater than the pain of its loss.