- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 29, 2001

Susan Levy concedes her family is mortified by rampant speculation about the sexual exploits of her missing daughter.
"I'm embarrassed in a lot of ways, but Chandra is an adult. It's not like she was 16 years old. She's 24 and a woman," Mrs. Levy said in an interview with The Washington Times as the search for Chandra Ann Levy entered its fourth month.
What's most important, she said, is bringing her daughter home.
"If I didn't have my belief in God, what would I have?" Mrs. Levy said.
She described her faith as "a Heinz 57 mutt — Jewish and also Christian," with beliefs in some Buddhist teachings.
"All religions tie to similar beliefs. I believe in spirituality and God. I'm Jewish. I think we have a wonderful religion. I'm also Christian. I do believe in Jesus, too," said Mrs. Levy, an artist, citing her study of theosophy, philosophy, education and art history.
Because Susan and Robert Levy considered their own names so bland, she said, the couple named their only daughter with a Sanskrit word for "moon." The idea came from the Bhagavad Gita writings of Krishna, the early guru of Eastern religion, whom Mrs. Levy encountered in studies of comparative religion.
Chandra's babyhood nickname, Shasha, also is a Sanskrit reference to the moon.
"We wanted an unusual name. I like the sound of it," Mrs. Levy said.
Dr. Robert Levy is a Jew of conventional beliefs reinforced by the loss of family in the Holocaust during World War II. Growing up in Modesto, Calif., Chandra joined her parents at Congregation Beth Shalom and observed Jewish holidays, but her mother's interest did not rub off.
"Oh no," Mrs. Levy said. "As you get older you get more spiritually oriented and you read. She's not metaphysical like I am. I'm a metaphysical thinker."
Mrs. Levy granted the hour-long phone interview Wednesday night from Modesto, on the condition that The Times not ask about the police investigation or the affair that Rep. Gary A. Condit, California Democrat, has told authorities he had with Chandra.
Mrs. Levy intermittently took other phone calls long enough to determine that they brought no news. She brushed off an apology about the interview being a distraction. "It's OK; it keeps me from watching the news," she said, laughing.
She said she and her husband observed Passover with their daughter two weeks before she went missing in Washington. They visited the Eastern Shore home of an aunt, Linda Zamsky, to whom Chandra initially confided an affair with Mr. Condit in late November. The family drove to Hershey, Pa., to celebrate her 24th birthday — Saturday, April 14 — at the end of Passover week.
"Chandra and I did the Hershey spa treatment for her birthday," Mrs. Levy said.
Other such mother-daughter outings included world travels, concerts by Paul Simon and Bob Dylan and a trip by train and car to Canyonlands National Park.
"We travel together. We laugh together. We argue together. We share opinions, not always agreeing. Mother and daughter," Mrs. Levy said, never losing her composure as she reviewed memories.
"We try to be always nice to each other," she added, careful to speak of her daughter in the present tense.
The Levys separately confronted Chandra about her affair with Mr. Condit prior to her disappearance. Those exchanges were off-limits in the interview.
Mrs. Levy said she tries not to be distressed by news reports and talk-show chatter that criticize her daughter's conduct and the Levys' parenting.
"I try to just remove myself in some way," she said. "I try to go on a different spiritual plane rather than passing judgment. Regardless, I love my daughter and my opinion is that the judgment of others is based on reality as those people see it through their own filter."
Her daughter routinely guarded her privacy, Mrs. Levy said, and would be displeased to see her picture plastered on magazine covers and front pages.
The only hint of parental disapproval comes in a comment about a photograph of a teen-age Chandra in a sexy outfit. First published in a high school yearbook but now fodder for supermarket tabloids, the photo captures her posing on a balcony against a city skyline in a tight, off-the-shoulder, short-skirted dress with a pattern of yellow, blue and green flowers.
"I wasn't real happy about that dress," Mrs. Levy said. "She was just 15 or so then."

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