I am Shalom, son of Amram,
son of Itzhak,

the High Priest of the Samaritans.

I think that what I did,
Must have happened a long time ago,

not just now. I have two brothers
who are mute, two others died,

two of my uncles are also mute.

My father and I approached the
High Priest Shalom many times,

asking him to allow me
to marry an outsider,

but every time
the answer was “no”.

You must marry a Samaritan.

But Joseph, son of Jacob,
our forefather,

had married an Egyptian woman.

Moses didn’t marry a Samaritan
or a Jew, either,

he married someone else.

So I told them,

if Joseph and Moses,
our great ancestors,

married foreign women,
why shouldn’t we?

Until they understood.

One day he called me and said,
I heard you wanted to get married,

bring me the pictures of
the girl you want to marry.

I went over and showed him
pictures of Shura.

He said, she’s very beautiful,

but I believe she’s
not only beautiful,

but she’s going to make
a good wife.

I haven’t found my fortune here.

If I had, I would have stayed here.

It wasn’t that I was fleeing Kherson
because I didn’t like it here,

not at all, I was looking
for a soul mate,

a person I could
live with in harmony.

Kherson is considered the brides’
capitol of the Ukraine.

They say that Kherson girls
are the prettiest.

The quality of life here is pretty
low. Perhaps this is the reason

why local girls prefer
marrying foreigners.

“Days and years go by,
centuries fly,

“nations come and go,
so do customs and fashions,

“only one thing never changes,
the heady wine of love.

“The millennia pass,
but love remains all-powerful…”

I took my girlfriend to
a professional photographer,

to make some photos for
a man from an agency.

He asked me for my particulars,

and after a while I started
receiving phone calls from America,

from Germany, from
all over the world.

When a foreigner comes to
a matchmaking agency here,

he chooses a girl he wants to meet,
then another one, and another.

Yair didn’t want any others,
he wanted to meet only me.

If I had turned him down,
he would have left,

without meeting any other girls.

A month later he came here.
We went out for a week,

going to cafes or just
walking around, talking.

I felt attracted to him right away.

I knew that this man
will be my husband.

- I love you, Anya! –

When I saw pictures of Israel in
the magazines, it looked so nice,

and I dreamed of coming there,
but when I came here, I got scared.

All these soldiers, it looked
scary, like a war zone.

I thought, my God, where are they
bringing me, what is this place?

I hadn’t seen mountains before,
because I’ve never been anywhere.

When we arrived, at first
I didn’t understand where I was,

I was in shock and
thought about going back.

Days went by, then a week, I began
to understand the conversations,

but for about two months
I wasn’t myself.

Sometimes she says, I came here
to be in jail. She’s wrong.

I tell her, you are
everything to me.

I brought you here, I married you,

now you are my wife,

and my entire house is yours,
including even myself.

Back in the Ukraine, in Kherson,
she had respect,

but that doesn’t matter. There is
no greater honor in all the world

than what she has now.

I really do love Shura,
a lot.

This is the first time
she’s hearing this,

that she’s number one
in the world for me.

Whatever she wants,
I can do it, no problem.

But I am a religious person,

we are a priestly family, from
father to son, we are all priests,

and 90 percent are High Priests.

Now she belongs to the first
family of the nation.

She is like the daughter
of the High Priest.

Her son is dedicated
to the High Priest Aaron,

the High Priest of the Samaritans
in Moses’ times.

So I tell Shura,
walk the path I want,

and in the end we’ll
both come out ahead.

I’m alone here, I’ve got nobody
to share things with,

I could only talk on the telephone
with my family, and I did, a lot,

they were very supportive, telling
me to stick it out and see,

but when I had a lot built up
inside, I’d say, no, I can’t,

I don’t think I will be able
to make it here, I’ll leave.

I’ve been here for 7 months,
but just about 2 months ago

I finally understood
how Yair feels about me.

He never disappoints me.
There are disagreements,

like in any marriage,
but it’s all negligible.

If I didn’t have his support,
I wouldn’t have stayed here.

He managed to make me feel
such affection for him,

he treats me very well, loves me
and never denies me anything,

so I stay with him, I guess
because we belong together.

It’s not easy, making a sukkah
like this. It took me two nights,

but I’ve poured all the joy
that’s in my heart, into it.

Every little thing I do here,
gives me joy.

I go around for months, looking
for a beautiful citron like this.

There is almost half a ton
of fruit here altogether.

Now this is a holy place,
like a synagogue.

People welcome each other here, to
let the joy of the festival show.

First of all, I still don’t know
everything (anything??)about their Bible,

which I need to know
to understand it all,

but with time Yair will probably
help me and explain it to me,

so that I can understand it better.

At the moment I don’t even speak
the language well enough

to communicate freely with them,

but I think that, given time,
I’ll understand everything.

Why do he and his father
think I’m so good?

I guess it’s because not everyone
could have come from another country

and overcome all the difficulties
of the initial period,

get used to it all, without taking
a step back, without leaving.

I put up with it.
It was tough, but I did it,

and I don’t regret it.

It comes from God. Our Torah says
that when you marry a girl,

it’s like you were born
for each other.

I want to have a child with her.

I want her to observe
the religion.

Often I tell her, Moses is one
thing, and Jesus is another,

like that. Moses
brought us the Torah,

about two thousand
years before Jesus.

Moses is number one with us.

Our religion is number one with us.

The Sabbath is number one with us.

That’s what our Torah says,
and I believe

that we are the only nation
in the world that is sacred.

I believe in God in my soul,
and the specific religion

doesn’t matter to me. I can
communicate with God one to one,

but going to prayers every day,
especially when you’re too tired,

but you have to get up early
in the morning to go to prayers,

just so that people could see that
you do that, that’s not my thing.

I communicate with God in private.
Before I go to bed,

I pray, I can say a prayer or
thank God for the meal I’ve had.

I like visiting Kherson, but just
between us, there’s something

about it that bothers me.
You could say it’s a small thing,

but I’m afraid of it,
so for me it’s a big thing.

I’m afraid that after Shura sees
her friends and her parents,

she’ll say it’s better to
live there and not here.

It scares me.

I’m sorry to say this, but I can’t
sleep at night thinking about it.

- Airport –

When I left for the first time,

I couldn’t imagine how I could
live without Kherson.

The next year, before my visit, I
missed it a little, felt drawn here,

but as the years go by,
I tend to lose the connection.

I think I’ll lose it entirely
with time. I see the difference

in people, the mentality
is completely different.

I’ve gotten used to a certain
kind of people, and when I see

how vast the differences are,
it scares me a little.

I keep counting the
hours to go back.

I miss Yair’s parents a lot, miss
the people I’m in touch with there.

This is my homeland, I’ll keep
coming here to visit anyway,

it’s fascinating to see what
goes on here. However it is,

this is the place I was born,
and I’ll always miss it,

but I’m where my husband is,
and he is where I am.

This is our Torah scroll,
written in ancient Hebrew.

Not Assyrian and not Aramaic,
but original Hebrew,

the language we’ve spoken
ever since antiquity,

since before the People of Israel
came to the Holy Land.

Let me read it the way the
Samaritans pronounce it.

The Samaritans keep
a record of their history.

Their history begins with Adam

and continues up to the
current High Priest.

That’s right, from Adam
to the current High Priest,

162 generations in all.

Now, from Adam to Moses
there were 26 generations.

From Adam to Noah,
10 generations.

From Noah to Abraham,
10 generations.

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Jacob begat the 12 tribes.

The Samaritans belong to the
tribes of Levi and Joseph.

When we adopt foreign women into
our nation, it makes me afraid

for the future, afraid that we
won’t be able to control them.

Our nation, which for 3642 years
has kept its unique traditions

and customs, must continue keeping
them for the future,

otherwise there will
be chaos.

Every person has a goal,

and to achieve it, he’s
prepared to do anything.

I’ve always dreamt of
a mate that’s special,

I didn’t want a mate just
for a short time.

I had a chance to be
with a Samaritan girl,

but it didn’t work out, because
among the Samaritan girls I’ve known

I couldn’t find the girl
I’ve dreamt about all my life. (of my dreams)

We met at work, we work together.
The romance bloomed right away.

For me, he’s a very special person.
I haven’t met many like him.

He’s a very kind person,
very responsible, very decent,

a man of his word.

I couldn’t say it was ideal,
no person is ideal, I guess,

but it’s very close to it.

It’s simply chemistry,
it just happened.

We met, went out a few times,
a week, two weeks, three weeks,

on the 20th day I asked her
to marry me, and she accepted.

She didn’t think for one second,
just said “yes”.

She warms my heart, she warms
my body, she warms my life.

The feeling of being close to her
gives me a reason to live,

and now I live
only for her.

I’ll come to your home on Tuesday
afternoon, come in and say:

“My dear one (darling), I love you
so very, very much…”

Russia is special. The people
here behave in a special way,

different from all other nations.
You can see it in the architecture,

big blocks of identical
buildings everywhere.

You don’t see things like this
anywhere else in the world.

How people live here, with all
this hardship, in this cold,

you see old people, 80-years old
men and women, going out shopping,

making an effort, instead of sitting
at home waiting for delivery.

You can see how hard it is for them
to go on a bus or a tram or a taxi,

how difficult it is for them
to walk in the snow and the cold,

it’s really something special.

Isn’t the river beautiful,
all iced up? –Yes, it is.

This is the university I used to
go to. –What did you study there?

Russian language and literature.

It’s like a fairytale here.
–Fairytales always happen

around Christmas and New Year.
–But our fairytale is different.

I was born in Israel,
she was born here,

and fate brought us together.

When I first came into the house,
I was a little shy.

They were waiting to see the man
that their daughter decided

to be with, but received me
very well.

I feel how they feel about me.
I was ill for two days,

and her mother took care of me
as if I were her own son,

giving me medicine and every couple
of hours asking how I felt

and if I slept well. That
gave me a very good feeling,

that this family
accepts me willingly.

The way she described him, we
imagined him a little differently,

but she told me on the phone back
then that he was a modern person,

an advanced young man,
as they say today,

that we shouldn’t think that he was
some primitive that came off a tree.

She told us that in advance.
We took to him right away.

He’s a cheerful person, who enjoys
life, an optimist by nature.

We like it that he treats
our Lena so nicely.

“Lena, I love you very, very much”!

The most important thing is that
their relationship remains good,

the rest will come.
As the Russian saying goes,

“If you have your health,
you can buy the rest”.

I felt as if I’ve lived there
for three hundred years,

as if I’ve found my place.
I took to it right away…

She must have lived there
in her previous life,

that’s why she mastered the
language so quickly, too.

Many people complain about this
and that, but I tell them,

if you don’t like it here, why do
you stay? Go back to your homeland,

back to the town you came from,
and live there.

There are some drawbacks,
of course, no place is perfect,

but I like it there so much, as
if I’ve lived there all my life.

- Happy New Year -

I’ve always dreamt of a mate
that would understand me

exactly the way I understand myself.

She’s a caring person, that’s
the most important thing.

She cares for me.
When I’m hurting,

she knows it even before
I can say I’m hurting.

When I’m sad, she knows why,
even before I tell her.

She understands me better
than any other person could.

I’ve always told you
I didn’t want to come back.

Did you think about us, how it is
for us here, just the two of us,

at this age,
not having anyone else.

Nevertheless, she was
our only hope and support,

and now she’s far away and forever,
though we were expecting her

to come back, after three years,
maybe five, but we expected her

to come home, to Russia.

I would certainly prefer
to have her here, near us,

but what can I do?
She doesn’t want to live here.

We still feel a little selfish
and sad sometimes,

and it hurts a little not to have
her with us, we would like it,

of course, to have our Lena here,
with us, in our village,

digging for potatoes with us and
planting vegetables in the garden,

going on living as we do, but I
think that if she chose that life,

let her live her own life
the way she likes to.

Nothing in our lives happens by
accident, including the future.

Whatever happens to us,
is handed down from above.

I’ve never been especially pious,

but when I entered the world of the
Samaritans, of devout people,

I discovered that living with
faith isn’t just simpler,

but easier somehow.

Rojai himself said that he would
be prepared to do anything for me,

that if I weren’t happy or
dissatisfied with something,

he would even part with his family,
with all the Samaritans,

and live anywhere I wished.

We’ve even discussed Russia.

Anything can happen, we live in a
world where anything is possible.

We will live wherever we are happy,
wherever it’s good for us.

I’m going home the day after
tomorrow, and I promised Lena

that we will visit her parents
any chance we get and help them,

and I would like them,
I only wish they would agree,

to come live with us, in Israel.

That would bring the whole
family together.

That won’t happen,
no “buts” about it.

This is our homeland.

A person’s place is where he
was born, as the saying goes.

No, it’s too late in life for us
to make such radical changes.

She’s young, she has to make her
own life, as young people do.

Where would I go now?
I’m 50 already.

If I were healthy, I would
perhaps consider going,

but to go there with my limp?

They’ve got enough disabled
people of their own.

I promised my mother
to send her this tape,

so they could see where we live
and what we do…

We wanted to get married a month
ago and set a specific date,

March 17, which is exactly the
same day her parents got married,

as a present to them, to let
them know that we loved them

and were getting married
that very same day.

I was very emotional that day,
I was really moved to tears,

and prayed to God to let
everything go well.

But then the High Priest died,
so we didn’t get married.

We share your grief.

He was a great priest and
a good leader of the community.

He was pure of heart
and pure of soul,

nothing but good
can be said about him.

He was in great pain for six months

before God took him.

I am priest Elazar son of Tzadka.

Now I am the High Priest.
The Lord has chosen me

after the late High Priest Shalom,
blessed be his memory, passed away.

My nation is slowly going to ruin.

Eight percent of the community
are handicapped.

I have decided to bring in a new
era, so that the Samaritan nation

becomes stronger and
bears good, healthy children.

I see this wedding in a different
light than a Russian wedding,

a feast with a lot of guests.
The most important thing for me here

is that we were lawfully wed,
and I was anxious

for the end of the prayer, when
they pronounce us man and wife.

I feel I’m one of them,
I can really feel it.

The feeling of being one in such
a small group of people is unusual,

and very nice.
I mean, we are very few,

and being one of this group
is an honor.





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