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List Name Delete from selected List. Save to. Save to:. Save Create a List. Create a list. Save Back. The Teacher Store Cart. Checkout Now. Olympic National Park. Grades PreK—K , 1—2 , 3—5 , 6—8. Olympic National Park was created in by enlarging a national monument on the Olympic Peninsula of western Washington, established in The park preserves a large portion of the virgin rain forest of the Olympic Mountains, as well as an km mi strip of forested Pacific coast, a total area of , ha , acres.

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Precipitation rates there are among the highest in the United States, averaging 3, mm in per year in the western valleys, where dense forests of giant Sitka spruce and luxuriant growths of ferns and moss are found at lower elevations, and forests of Douglas fir, hemlock, cedar, spruce, and pine at the higher. I kicked off the bootsies and held still while Carol the Mikvah Lady inspected me in order to pick off any stray hairs that may have fallen down my back.

I checked myself also and found an additional long hair that I handed her. After she discarded the loose hairs, Carol came back and stepped behind me. I walked toward the Mikvah and began to descend the seven steps that led down to the main pool. I held the railing and stepped down the seven steps—each one representing a day in the Creation story. Then an unexpected challenge arose: by the fourth step I could already tell that the water was too deep.

As in, over my head.

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I would never be able to touch the bottom. I gazed into the shimmering depths of the main pool and realized, not without a fair amount of trepidation, that I would never be able to stand upright in it. The water was high enough to go over my head. An irrational fear seized hold of my mind. Has anybody ever drowned in a Mikvah? I wondered, cringing inwardly at the ridiculousness of the question.

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Worst case scenario, Carol the Mikvah Lady was here, along with three rabbis on the other side of the wall partition. My desire to become a Jew was now confronted head-on by my fear of drowning. Did I want to convert badly enough to risk drowning? Would you rather live as a Christian or risk drowning to become a Jew? The answer came hard and fast: YES.

Yes, I wanted it that badly. Badly enough to jump off into the deep end, where the water towered above my head — not knowing if I would bob back up or sink right to the bottom. In a way, this was still partly true — with that tranquil blue water so warm and lovely, lapping at my skin, an aura of serenity had surrounded me. But suddenly another part of me was seized with fear. As anxiety mounted in my chest, I realized that in order to become a Jew I would have to conquer my terror.

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I took a deep breath and tried to balance myself on the lowest step, which was really hard because the salt water makes you buoy about, making it impossible to keep your feet firmly planted onto the tiled ground. I sucked in a deep breath, steadied myself…. Water flooded into my eyes, mouth, over my head, and suddenly I was up again, sputtering and flailing toward the metal rail in the corner.

I seized hold of it and clambered up onto the last ledge again. Carol looked at my ungainly flop and smiled sympathetically. She nodded.

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The force of you jumping up will ensure you submerge all the way down. I took another deep, shuddering breath, and felt determination flow through my entire body. I thought about the people who had been killed over the centuries for being a Jew, about all who had walked down this path before me as converts and embraced their Jewish neshama. It still felt scary, taking that plunge — but I no longer cared about drowning.

I wanted to leap as far into that water as I could, to take it all into my heart, to let it remind me of my strength and ability to survive anything. I opened my eyes underneath the water which coated every pore of my being and thought, This is the day I was born.

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Back then, and then again today. No sooner did that realization hit than a force propelled me upwards — the force of my own buoyancy. In fact, I felt stronger than ever. I repositioned myself on the last step, filled my lungs with air, and leapt up again. I half-swam back toward the steps, found my balance again and turned to face the blueness. This would be my third jump. When I came back up again, I would be a Jew. I closed my eyes and felt tears brimming behind my eyelashes. I mouthed the words of the Shema silently, for everyone before me, and then again for myself — that I be worthy of that painful, beautiful legacy and that I might contribute toward making the world a better place.

And then I took the biggest leap of my life into the waters that had always waited there for me. I lifted my knees up to my chest and spread my arms out to my sides, and the Mikvah embraced me. I turned around and emerged out of the water slowly, its warmth following me. Carol was beaming at me, holding out the towel. I pitter-pattered back to the bathroom where I was shaking as I toweled off, got dressed as quickly as I could, and put in my contact lenses once again. I was too impatient to take the time needed to blow dry my long hair, and as a result I was still dripping water when I re-emerged into the little room where everyone was waiting for me.

The rabbis surrounded me and put their hands on my shoulders, breaking into song. As they sang, said their blessings and gave me all the official conversion paperwork, tears started to course down my face. The oldest rabbi, probably close to eighty, wrapped his arm around my shoulders in a way a father might comfort a daughter and as he held me while I cried, I felt the warmth of his joy — I had come home.

Above: me with rabbis after the ceremony. Right: a beautiful antique menorah — my conversion gift. Because Bucharest is only a two-hour flight from Tel Aviv, I decided to make my first journey to Israel. It took me a lifetime to realize that my parents had been a by-product of their time — they had suffered so immensely that they had absorbed their oppression and passed it onto others.

RAW: Mountain goats airlifted from Olympic National Park - July 2019

They made others suffer because that was the only way they could relate, after the pain they had endured. They hurt me because they themselves had been hurt. So many scarred, wounded people have created the world we live in today, where suffering and oppression breeds brutality. A cycle where hatred and religion-fueled intolerance supresses the spark of divine essence, the oneness, that connects all beings. Unity is stronger than division. Kindness reveals much more courage than brutality.

In deeds of loving kindness. In recognizing our mistakes and showing forgiveness to those who harmed us.


I have all the verifiable news clippings to prove a vast majority of scenes were based on my life. I also have email correspondence from a former consultant of the film — which demonstrates how the film producer researched my life via court records and interviews with people who knew me at the time, in order to write his script. Specifically, the scenes were lifted from my trial testimony against the Heritage Front white supremacists, and my testimony in the House of Commons, along with the extensive press coverage in the Ontario newspapers that covered my story.

When examined frame-by-frame, approx. After I testified against neo-Nazis at only 19, and while I was dumpster-diving for survival and begging for spare change on street corners while in hiding, people were making money hand over fist based on what had happened to me. Shame on all those who exploited a teenage girl who had nothing but the truth on her side.

To book me for a speaking engagement, lecture, keynote or workshop at your event or to request more information about topics of interest, please visit my Speaking page to view options and contact me. Please note: The letter I am posting below, in bold font, was written today by Martin Theriault of the Canadian Centre on Racism and Prejudice and has just been sent to the editors at Toronto Star and the journalist who wrote a slanted piece on Grant Bristow without bothering to check all her facts. I am too upset at this time to write my own rebuttal, but will do so in the coming weeks.

However, I am ready and eager to present actual evidence — affidavits, along with correspondence between prominent human rights attorneys Paul Copeland and Clayton Ruby and Metro Toronto Police re.