Miri Maoz-Ovadia
Miri Maoz-Ovadia Miri Maoz-Ovadia, married to Shlomo and mother of Naveh, lives in Neve Tzuf. She is the overseas spokespersons coordinator for the Binyamin Regional Council. Wednesday 7.1.15 No comments 2411 views

The Sound of Silence

One of the things that I fondly recall from that period in Jerusalem is the feeling of being constantly surrounded by noises.

It starts with the garbage truck that for some reason has to pick up the trash at six in the morning even on side streets, and continues with the construction workers who start drilling at 7:00AM to take advantage of every minute of work time. They’re joined by the sounds of buses, vendors and random shouting in the streets. The day continues on with honking and mothers walking down the street with their children. Evening descends, brings with it the night crowd – young people coming to the pubs and couples strolling the streets, looking for an alternative to café dates.

The noise was so appealing to me at the beginning. Even in Jerusalem, which you can’t really call the city that never sleeps (it sleeps every night between midnight and six in the morning, and on weekends of course), the noise ignites within you this constant adrenaline, a feeling that at any given moment, there are several opportunities that you might miss if you just stay at home.

I enjoyed listening to the sounds, imagining the people outside. There were sounds that I eventually blocked out – even the garbage truck stopped waking me up in the mornings, and the urban clamor became a melody I learned to love. The weekday din magnified the silence of the Sabbath so characteristic of Jerusalem. The noise resumed on Sunday morning helped us start the week and feel that something new was beginning.

On a public level, this noise always made me feel “in the loop”. During the period of the last elections, I was surrounded by signs and campaigns in every corner. Public issues that brought groups protesting outside the Prime Minister’s office could be heard clearly. Every diplomatic visit by Kerry or Obama caused immense traffic jams for all of us, and twice a day, we could hear the sirens of the President’s escort accompanying him out of and back to his house, located at the beginning of our street.

I never thought that I would miss these noises, but lo and behold, it happened. Living in a small town means a lot of wonderful things: community life, good neighbor relations, chatting on the way to the grocery store, and almost always a hitchhiker or two to accompany your travels. And silence, so much silence. When the evening falls, all of the neighbors – especially those with children – leave the street vacant and begin the evening routine of bath time, supper and to sleep. All of the parking spaces are already occupied by cars and the street is quiet. The sound of silence.

All of the good things I hoped to find when I moved to a small town I indeed found, and most importantly – tranquility. In the city, it was always difficult for me to feel complacent, I felt that sitting at home in the evening was the default alternative. I enjoyed the commotion around me but always felt that I wasn’t fully taking advantage of everything the city had to offer me. I lived in Jerusalem’s Rechavia neighborhood for two years and I didn’t even once go to a play at one of the theaters in the vicinity, not even at the Jerusalem Theater – a three minute walk away. I didn’t make it to any shows or concerts either, and to the movie theater – only rarely. I kept promising myself that at some point, I would take advantage of the amazing location of my apartment, but in the busy rush of life, it never happened.

Today, sitting at home night after night, I slowly stopped feeling that constant sense of missed opportunities and I’m learning to simply enjoy the quiet and rest. I understand that true rest is the kind that the body and soul choose, and not the default rest caused by total exhaustion.


I continue to miss Jerusalem and its harmony of noises. I miss it from afar. When I came to visit this week, I deeply inhaled all of the scents, noises and sounds of the city. I took one deep breath, I choked a bit on a black cloud expelled from a bus that whizzed by me, and that was it. I’m going home as evening falls, coming home to my sound of silence, feeling that I made the right choice.



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