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Mei Menachem Western Well Community Mikvah Blog

Mei Menachem Western Well Community Mikvah Blog

Busy Days at the Dish Mikvah Getting Ready for Mega Challah Bake

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Busy Days at the Dish Mikvah Getting Ready for Mega Challah Bake

IMG_1947.JPGAlmost 700 out of 1000 bowls are presently adorning the lobbies of the Mikvah and the Chabad Center in Natick.  What is this all about?  The Mega Challah Bake is now less than two weeks away and almost 20 Chabad Centers are involved in the planning and preparation for this magical event.  

The Chabad Center in Natick and the Mei Menachem Western Well Mikvah next door have been a hub of activity in preparation for this event.  Jewish law requires that new dishes be immersed in a mikvah before use.*   IMG_1950.JPGWhere does one go when dishes need to be immersed?  Right here in Natick, we are blessed to have a stunning spa-like Mikvah which also features a separate dish mikvah. The Posner and Fogelman crews have spent many hours between transporting, pealing off labels, immersing in the mikvah, washing and drying the bowls which will be used by 1000 women at the Mega Challah Bake.  In the next few days, we will still be doing more.  If anyone wants to help with this, please let us know.  But most important, if you haven't signed up yet for this amazing event, please do so right away - last year was all sold out.  IMG_1945.JPGPlease let me know if you would like to sit at the tables with our group. 

Sign up online at http://www.bostonchallah.com/. 

Feel free to contact me at mikvah@chabadnatick.com if you would like to learn more about mikvah.

Wishing you well from the Western Well,

Chanie Fogelman

* To find out more about the observance of dish mikvah immersion, please click here.

POST SCRIPT 11/3/16:  An additional 300 bowls were purchased and shipped to Chabad this week.  Now there are well over 1000 bowls at the mikvah.  A moving truck is arriving Tuesday morning to pick up all the bowls and deliver them to Moseley's on the Charles where the Mega Challah Bake is taking place.

"Secrets of the Garden" with Chana Weisberg

B”H

Recently at Chabad’s Friday Night Oneg, we were fortunate to have with us a special guest speaker.   Chana Weisberg, editor of JewishWomen.org and author of several books, shared with us “Secrets of the Garden” in her talk about relationships - and what can be learned about men and women from the story of the Garden of Eden.  For those who couldn’t make it and said to me “I wish I could have been there” and for all those who were there, and would like a refresher… here we go.

After lightening up the crowd with her wit and humor, Chana Weisberg began by demonstrating the different styles of men and women. She held up signs that showed a comment of what a woman might say to her husband… and then she asked the crowd “What is she really trying to say?” Then she did the same for men’s comments. She did this several times always engaging the participants. Using specific examples, she explained how these differences in styles date back to our origins even as the Torah describes in Adam and Eve right from the beginning. It’s natural that there can be challenges when we are wired differently like that. And yet, when we have tools to work things through and truly try to understand the other, this can make the relationship especially meaningful and even passionately so.  

Mrs. Weisberg elaborated further on the differences between the genders using the paradigm of a circle and a line. The circle connects with the woman as the line connects with the man. Various traditions tie into this concept. During the wedding Chupah ceremony, the bride circles around the groom. There is the ring that the bride receives, perfectly round.  We see this line and circle theme on many levels – from the physiological make up even to emotional styles. While a man might prefer the straight line approach in getting from “point a” to “point b”, the woman might choose the circular path.  While on the path she makes connections… Is one way better than the other? Each may have its benefits but how does this work for compatibility? Chana continued to share more thoughts and ideas of what can be helpful in this potentially dichotomous situation.

Towards the end, Chana also shared how the system of Taharat Hamishpocha, the laws of family purity and Mikvah, as it pertains within the context of a marriage between a Jewish husband and wife, actually support healthy relationships. G-d who knows his creations and the challenges that can exist in a long-term marriage relationship, provided us with a special mitzvah that addresses the enhancing and strengthening of relationship from various angles. If anyone would like to learn more about this please feel free to contact me at mivah@chabadnatick.com.

Of course the above is barely a synopsis. It is impossible to convey to depth and beauty of Chana Weisberg’s eloquent talk. Her talk was practical, down-to-earth, and relatable to all (whether in a marriage or not).  As she quoted texts and sources in her articulate talk, it was clear to all that she is a truly educated woman.  When her talk was over, one of the women said, “I could sit here listening to you for another hour!” – and the others agreed. 

Thoughts From Recent Mikvah Tour

          As an unmarried, ‘reformed’ Jew, I knew nothing of mikvah. Last year I took my first class at Chabad at the Posners in Boston, and since then my fascination with Judaism and the laws of Torah has grown, specifically my interest in the roles of women (I’m a woman). Since September I’ve been in a class about what it means to be a Jewish woman.

On Sunday I texted my dad, “Today I’m visiting a mikvah in Natick.” He responded, “Remind me what a mikvah is.” As I said, we belong to a ‘reformed’ temple, and I doubt my mom has ever been to a mikvah in her life.  If it is more important to have a mikvah than a Torah, then why is mikvah so unknown?  Although visiting a mikvah is an important mitzvah, it is incredibly personal.  Mikvah is so important, that the mikvah is open 363 days a year!  Yes, even on Shabbat.  That shocked me. Visiting the mikvah is amazing and special for many reasons.  First, this is a time when a woman is depended upon to be a valid witness. That is probably the least important aspect of mikvah, but one that I’m fascinated by.

      Last Sunday my class (group of BU students and other locals) visited Chabad in Natick, and Chanie Fogelman took us on a tour of the Mei Menachem Western Well mikvah.  First, wow! This mikvah is beautiful.  An ocean can be a mikvah; various bodies of natural water can serve as mikvahs.  But, the Rebbe insisted that our mitzvot, particularly the mitzvah of mikvah, should be enjoyable and even luxurious.  Because of this, the Western Well mikvah is like a spa. This is definitely a luxurious place to experience this mitzvah.  One thing that Chanie said really stuck with me—a woman’s time in the mikvah is her holy time with G-d.  She related it to the holiness of the moment when lighting the Shabbat candles.

Mikvah is not always luxurious. We heard a story that in Russia when women were not able to access the mikvah, they broke the ice to dip into the water below. Can you imagine?!

There are so many interesting aspects of mikvah, and let me tell you, the Jews have thought of everything! I had so many questions about mikvah, and there is an answer for everything. I learned so much from my mikvah tour. One of my favorite things is the bowl of chewy candy as the women exit the mikvah. You enter into the mikvah in your purest form—no makeup, no nail polish, no jewelry. You take a bath, then you shower, you brush your teeth, you floss. The only thing going into the mikvah is you. Outside of the mikvah, in the lobby, there are chewy candies – and here’s why they are available for the women.  After leaving the mikvah, a woman can eat a chewy candy and then there is no question about the validity of her time at the mikvah.  If she leaves and feels something in her teeth she might have thought ‘was that there before?’, ‘was my mikvah night kosher?’, or even ‘should I go back?’  Get some chewy candy stuck in your teeth and then there is no question!

I could continue, I have so many more questions, but from here all I will say is learn about mikvah! It is more important for a community to have a mikvah than even having a Torah - learn why.  

Kathryn Pulverman

To see some more photos of the tour, click here

Trick or Treat at a Mikvah?

What I am about to tell you is not a trick! 

This past Monday night I was at the mikvah preparing for the 8:15 appointment when the doorbell rang.  It was a little early but I happened to be near the entrance at that moment and hearing the feminine voice outside I opened the door. 

“Hi” I said welcoming in the visitor.  She held out her bag and said “treat!” 
Uh oh…  “Not really” I hemmed, opening my mouth in stunned surprise. 
As my mind was processing the situation, and I might have said that this is not a residence, she said, “Oh – is this the Jewish Temple?” 
“Well” I answered, “the temple (Chabad) is next door and we are part of that.”  Then I asked her if she was Jewish. 
“I live in a neighboring town and go to the religious school at the Temple.”  She said. 
I explained that this is a Mikvah and invited her in for a quick tour.  My visitor, a mature looking young lady of high school age, seemed interested but was looking across the street to her group of friends.  She decided to wave them on indicating that she would catch up with them soon.  Unfamiliar with the concept of a Mikvah she was excited by the stunning spa-like facility.  When I shared that brides and women use this mikvah, it suddenly sounded familiar.  She thought her mother might have mentioned using the mikvah as a bride.  Then she said, “This is so nice.  I would love to come!  How would I arrange that?”  I handed her one of our customized emery boards and a business card and told her that when she is a bride we’ll arrange it – and any time that she has any questions she should feel free contact me. 

Just when she was heading out I noticed the candy dish that sits gracefully upon the marble counter in the lobby waiting to bid each visitor a sweet “good-bye”.   “Guess what – I do have a treat for you” I delightedly exclaimed dropping the Sunkist gem into her bag.

As she was leaving to rejoin her friends, it was evident from the smile on her face that she got more than what she came for.

Come visit our Mikvah and you too are in for a treat!

New Shower Systems for Women's Mikvah

Thanks to two wonderful anonymous donors, new shower systems were made possible for the women's preparation rooms at the Mei Menachem Western Well Community Mikvah.  The mikvah which serves Jewish communities in the Metrowest and beyond is recognized for its state-of-the-art modern spa-like facilities.  The top quality shower heads with the flexible hoses that were puchased and installed recently were the result of generous contributions and lots of time spent researching the best options.  Already in the short time since the installation, many clients have experienced the new shower systems and expressed their appreciation for this wonderful and important upgrade.  The mikvah provides tours and education for groups and/or individuals who want to learn more.  Please feel free contact me at mikvah@chabadnatick.com with any questions.
Wishing you well from the Western Well!
Chanie Fogelman 

Recap of Recent Maimonides Seniors Mikvah Tour

This past Monday, April 4, a group of about 20 girls, seniors of Maimonides High School, came to visit the Mei Menachem Western Well Community Mikvah (adjacent to the Chabad Center) as part of their Curriculum on Jewish Womenhood. The students were excited to learn about the Mikvah and the Mitzvah of Taharat Hamishpocho, Family Purity. They are aware that this will become an integral part of their lives eventually when they find their bashert (yiddish for "intended") and get married. They were wowed by the stunning spa-like state-of-the-art facilities.
For photos of this tour, please click here.

If you would like to arrange for a mikvah tour and/or to learn more about the mitzvah of Taharat Hamishpocho - an observance which is equivalent to keeping Passover and Yom Kippur, please email mikvah@chabadnatick.com.

From Towels to Torah

About six months ago I was given the honor of making sure that the Western Well, the Mikvah at Chabad of Natick, was always fully stocked with the requisite supplies. I recently had a great moment that moved me so much that I asked if I could share it with you all. 

We have been on a mission to replace our white oversized Bath Sheets. I started by doing research on the web for suppliers and was excited to find two suppliers offering towels at a great price. I put the order in at both places and spent the rest of the day feeling great about my “mission accomplished”. That night I checked the email confirmation of the order and noticed that instead of white towels, the color was listed as Sterling – light grey towels - not ok! In a panic I wrote to the supplier, explaining my situation and the confusion. I went onto their website and looked for other options, and also found their direct contact info. The next morning I called the company and spoke to a lovely woman. I was relieved to hear that other people had made the same mistake I had, looking at the photo and seeing white. She told me she would get back to me later on that day.   I returned home that afternoon to find a message from a Mr. Sam Kugler.  I knew from looking at the website that the name of the family that owned the company was Kugler. “Wow” I thought to myself, “someone from the family is making the call himself! “

Early the next morning I called the number and Sam Kugler answered the phone. He knew who I was and what the problem was. He told me that he had checked with the factory and - they did not have any white towels left.   I told him that the towels were for a Jewish organization and the there was something in our tradition called a mikvah. “Oh we built a dish mikvah here at the office“ says Sam, and we proceed to have a lengthy discussion about the pipes that collect the rainwater for a mikvah! Then my new best friend Sam says to me, “I am going to another factory tomorrow, I will look for towels for you.”

The following day I receive a call from Sam describing the towels and the great price that he has managed to source for us! The towels are, Please God, en route.

In last week’s Parsha (Torah portion), Vayeira,   Abraham communicates directly with Hashem, advocating on behalf of the Jewish nation. Rabbi Fogelman commented that Abraham was such a potent leader that he had the direct line to Hashem and that we as regular people don’t have that power. Rather we catch glimpses of the direct connection in subtle moments, which reveal themselves to us if we are lucky enough to notice. Sam and I both had such a moment. We were both blessed to experience the power of Hashem’s alignment, that through an order for towels over the internet, I would meet a man who not only knew what a mikvah is, but built one for his community. I ended the conversation with Sam by saying, “Sam when you go to the factory, look for new robes for us!”

By their example, practice and the Kedushah (holiness) of the Chabad Center of Natick and the Mei Menachem Western Well Community Mikvah, the Fogelmans have created moments and opportunities for all of us to experience the power of Hashem. May their work stand as a blessing for them and their family, and may the community continue be enriched and strengthened!

Mikvah Seminar

This past Sunday 50 women gathered at the Chabad Center in Natick for a Mikvah SemiDSC_7514.JPGnar which was sponsored by the Mei Menachem Western Well Community Mikvah.  This event was not open to the public - it was specifically geared to mikvah attendants and those who teach about the mitzvah of Family Purity or Taharat Hamishpocho.  Mikvahs from Central and Eastern MA as well as RI were represented by their staff including Daughters of Israel of Brookline, the Brighton Mikvah, the Sharon Mikvah, The Worcester Mikvah, some from the Providence Mikvah as well as, of course, our very own staff of Western Well Mikvah volunteers.   Rebbitzens from many Chabad Centers who are activly involved in teaching about mikvah were there as well.  We were honored to have as featured guest speaker Rabbi Yirmiyahu Katz of Brooklyn, NY, who runs a Kollel in Boro Park, NY, authored a scholarly book on Mikvahs which has endorsements from recognized Rabbis in NY and Israel, travels around the world to oversee the Halachic aspects of Mikvah construction projects, is a halachic authority and answers questions about Mikvah issues from people who call from all over.  

The evening began with a buffett supper and then everyone went into the main Shul room where everything was arranged seminar style.  Notebooks, pens and bottled water were waiting at the tables for each of the participants.  Everyone sat mesmerized for the next few hours as Rabbi Katz provided inspiration, shared important insights on dealing with sensitive issues that one may come accross, clarified many aspects of the laws, and answered questions.  

Some comments afterwards were -DSC_7508.JPG
"Rabbi Katz was an exceptional speaker.  He spoke from the heart which related to my heart as a Shomeres (mikvah attendant).  The praise he spoke of made me feel that my work as a shomeres is extremely valuable..." 
"Thank you so much for arranging the mikvah seminar last night.  It was just great!" 
"I wanted to tell you that last night’s seminar was beautiful.  The atmosphere was great and it was so nice to see so many woman from all over the Boston area participating."
"I enjoyed what I heard and gained a lot of insight and chizuk from Rabbi Katz."  (Chizuk means empowerment and strength) 

May we all go from strength to strength in our endeavors of bringing purity and holiness into the world. 

Wishing you well from The Western Well, 

Chanie 

P.S.  Special thanks to Dena Judah for a generous contribution towards the refreshments.

To see more photos of this event, please click here. 
Thanks to Liorah Abrams for the photos. 

Columbus Day Mikvah Tour

Several months ago I was contacted by Glenda and Maxine from the Young Israel-Kehillath Jacob sisterhood in Randolph, MA.  They were coordinating a Columbus Day outing for their group of women and thought that a mikvah tour would be the perfect combination of something Jewish, educational, enjoyable and inspiring.  We discussed some highlights of the tour and the date was set.  They also thought that it would be great to round off the program with a lunch.  At that point I referred them to our local and wonderful Catering by Motti who could deliver to the Chabad Center whatever they would order.

This past Monday a school bus pulled up into the parking lot.  It was a glorious autumn late morning as 22 women filed out and came in to the Chabad Center.  We started with a discussion about the beautiful and important mitzvah of "Taharat Hamishpocho" Family Purity, and the use of mikvah after which the women walked over next door to the mikvah building. 

The women were in awe as they entered the beautiful spa-like Mei Menachem Western Well Community Mikvah.  They were greeted by the stunning Wall of Reflection as they stepped into the lobby.  Then everyone sqeezed into the prep room - a room that is otherwise quite spacious for its typical one-at-a-time patron usage.  As we discussed how one prepares for the mikvah, they noticed the beautifully folded towels and luxurious robes as well as the various products.  Next, everyone was led into the actual Mikvah room.  As they all stood around the mikvah we discussed what makes a mikvah kosher.  On their way out - you might notice in the photos - the women were looking under the stairs to see where the rain water collection meets the upper pool.  The last part of the tour was a hands-on experience at the dish mikvah.  Each woman was given a mug to immerse or "toivel" in the dish mikvah.  Then everyone gathered outside at the end, proudly held up their souvenir mugs - and said "L'Chaim".

At this point the appetites were quite worked up.  The women went back into the Chabad Center and brought out the delicious wraps, salad, and humous that was prepared by Motti and had a feast.  
YOU CAN CLICK 
HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS OF THIS TOUR.

I would like to wish a Mazel Tov to Rivky and Rabbi Hurwitz, the Rabbi and Rebbetzin of the shul that these women are part of, upon the birth of their new son who was born the same day as the tour (as we found out afterwards). 

If you would like to bring a group of any size - large or small - to visit the mikvah, contact me and I'll be happy to help you schedule a tour that will be a memorable experience for your group.

Wishing you well from the Western Well,

Chanie

P.S.  Don't be shy - please post your comments.  I'd love to hear from you.  

Dip Into The Mikvah Before You Dive Into Marriage

 The date’s all set. The hotel is reserved. The caterer has been chosen. The items on the list are slowly getting checked off. They’re still in middle of figuring out the photographer. Good thing they’ve got the party planner. She is their best friend these days. How else could anyone navigate through the maze of wedding planning and preparation?   How else could anyone be sure that no detail is overlooked?  With the worries off their shoulders, they know with confidence that this will be an absolutely perfect wedding.

But wait… What happens afterwards when the lively music comes to an end and the band packs up, when the dishes are cleared, when the dazzling center pieces have been removed, and the guest have gone? And even the party planner has taken her check and said “good night”. 

 There are two people left, bride and groom, now husband and wife. Together they become one in a new entity called marriage - a marriage that will last well beyond the most elaborate wedding party, a marriage that is meant to last a lifetime. Has there been any planning and preparation for this?  What is marriage anyway? Why get married?

 The biblical term for marriage is “Kiddushin” which is derived from “kadosh” which means holy. When a Jewish man and woman stand under their wedding canopy, and the blessings are recited, they are being sanctified as a couple. From now on, everything they do as a married couple, from general activities to their most intimate acts, have the potential to be blessed with the greatest holiness – they need only to invite G-d in. How do you invite G-d? Inviting 400 guests to the wedding seemed more doable than that. What is G-d’s address anyway?

 G-d is everywhere so finding Him is easy. And the direct link is the Torah and Mitzvot (G-d’s commandments). Thus when planning and preparing for the wedding day, the couple should also be sure to seek out the mitzvot from the Torah that relate to marriage, particularly those about the observance of Mikvah. That is how G-d is invited in, becomes a partner and blesses the union.

We are fortunate to have a modern, state-of-the-art, spa-like Mikvah locally. The stunning Mei Menachem Western Well Community Mikvah in Natick serves the MetroWest Jewish Communities and offers educational opportunities including tours to help familiarize people with the observance of mikvah. Many brides come before their wedding to ensure a solid spiritual foundation for their marriage. Many women from all walks of Jewish life continue to come regularly. Whether it’s a bride who comes for her first time or a woman who has come many times before, each visit is a special experience. To learn more about mikvah, to arrange for a tour, or for more information about the Western Well Mikvah, please visit www.chabadnatick.com/themikvah or email mikvah@chabadnatick.com.

This article was written by Chanie Fogelman and appeared in the July 2010 edition of the Metrowest Jewish Reporter. 

 

  

Mei Menachem Western Well Gets a Facelift

Mei Menachem Western Well Gets a Facelift

Have you seen the new garden in front of the Mei Menachem Western Well Mikvah?  Did you notice the fresh new coat of paint in the front?  Recently there have been a few important updates and repairs at the mikvah.  In the last six and a half years since the mikvah opened its doors, it has always been well cared for.  If you would come in at any time, the place would always be clean and beautiful.  However, over the course of the years, with the wear and tear caused by weather, water usage, and simply the passage of time, some things needed a little extra attention. With funds as tight as they are, it wasn't certain how some repairs would happen.        

But G-d has His wonderful messengers.  Dena Judah was bringing some supplies into the mikvah and happened to notice some damaged wood in a small area of the front exterior wall which was most likely affected by excess rain water.  She noticed that the garden was overgrown and not as lovely as it once was.   Also, one of the showers in the men's mikvah would leak down to the basement.  Dena right away organized some handymen to come over and give their bids for the work that needed to be done and within a short time everything was taken care of.  Yaasher Koach to Ralph and Dena Judah for sponsoring the updates and repairs.   

Now About the Garden... 

Over six years ago when the mikvah was brand new, it needed some landscaping in the front. Linda Kopans and her daughter Susan Copen-Holtey, a professional and creative gardener offered to donate some plants and many flowers as well as their time and effort to create a garden for the Mikvah frontage.  Susan's husband, John Holtey, helped tremendously as well.  What an array of beautiful plants and flowers that adorned the Mikvah!  Every year they would come by and spend time on weeding and whatever needed to be done to keep the garden growing nicely.  And for so many years it continued to look beautiful.  Thanks again to Linda Kopans, Sue and John. 

More recently, however, there were some suggestions that maybe it was time for a change. Perhaps we should be considering a new low maintenance landscape.   Thanks to Dena Judah this became a reality.  We started researching which plants would stay beautiful without too much maintenance.  We consulted with our dear friends, Richard and Judith Gutman, professional gardeners and landscape designers.  Judith made some valuable suggestions and went shopping with Dena.  They decided on some evergreens to create a more formal look for the Mikvah.  As for the flowers Judith said to me, "we've got to enhance the place with the calling of the place".   Since the mikvah is a place that represents purity, we should keep away from lots of colors and stick with mostly whites.  Here and there we might add one or two colors - but we really need to keep it pure. Something we hadn't even considered at the time - that I realized after a very busy month with June brides - was how perfectly the whites also fit with the bridal theme.   

And who actually planted the garden?   Dena did the bulk of the planting.  We also had a few helpers here and there during that day of planting.  Thank you also to Joe Holzman, Saul Berelowitz, and Joanie Ashe who all helped in some way.   

May Hashem bless all those who help and support the mikvah - the most important institution in the Jewish community. 

Wishing you well from the Western Well!

Chanie

New Inventory Volunteer

What do the Jewish priests of the ancient Holy Temple, the Beit Hamikdosh, in Jerusalem and the volunteer who oversees supplies and inventory at the modern Mei Menachem Western Well Community Mikvah in Natick have in common?  

Both are keepers of Sacred Space. 

The priests, also known as the Kohanim, cherished their job. Every day the Menorah had to be cleaned and prepared. Other jobs in the Beis HaMikdash included cooking, washing floors, mending their special garments, and making sure all supplies were there for their service. They had to check the firewood for the altar to see if it was rotted or wormy, in which case it would be unfit for use and would need to be replaced.  There was plenty to do and oversee and it was all done by the Kohanim themselves skillfully and conscientiously.  They knew that by keeping G-d's House, this was the highest type of service.

Fortunately at the Mikvah we have hired cleaning help on a regular basis ensuring that the place is always immaculate. But who makes sure all supplies are there so that everything can keep running smoothly?  A dedicated volunteer.

top drawer.jpgFor the last six years, since the Western Well Mikvah opened its doors to serve the Metrowest Jewish Community and beyond, Yonah Joel was the one who lovingly oversaw the inventory. She always made sure that the Mikvah had all items needed in stock. We gratefully acknowledge Yonah’s commitment and dedication in this important role for all these years. While stepping down from this position, we are very fortunate that Yonah Joel is maintaining her other volunteer position as one of our Mikvah attendants. (More on our wonderful Mikvah attendants another time.)

candies.jpgAt this time we are pleased to announce that our new inventory volunteer is Dena Judah. Dena and her husband Ralph were founders and pillars in the building campaign for the Mikvah.  It is exciting to have Dena on board for this important position which in addition to responsibility and commitment also requires lots of TLC (tender loving care). 

ppr towels.jpgThe Mikvah is stunning and taking care of it is a labor of love.  If you haven’t yet seen our Mikvah, come and visit. It would be my pleasure to show you around. Call me and we’ll figure out a time that works well on both ends.

Wishing you well from the Western Well!

Chanie

 

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