the sound of silence.

Over the last few weeks, I was awaken by the sound of silence. Don't worry - I'm not going on a religious rant. Let me explain. See much like how my last blog post highlighted the often abrasive and outspoken side of Israel, this post will highlight the opposite. I will take you through some experiences where I was given the opportunity to hear the sound of Israel's silence.

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A couple of weeks ago, my room mates and I decided to trek to Jerusalem for the weekend. Right when we entered the city walls, there was a strong energy shift. It was as if we traveled through some sort of vortex, arriving in a brand new reality. There's nothing like Jerusalem; walking through history, feeling the immense amount of blood, love, sweat and tears spilled over the ancient walls. Every time I visit, I am amazed. This time, we came for Shabbat, a particularly beautiful time in Jerusalem. The city winds down tremendously, and a calm wave rides over the land. What used to be a bustling open market where we bargained for colorful spices, fruits, and vegetables, turned into a barren dust bowl. Cars, cell phones, and the internet were placed away for an entire day, what seemed like a blissful eternity for some of us. People flooded the Kotel, pouring their prayers into the wall, and made their way to warm homes where delicious meals awaited. There was a presence in all of it, where nothing distracted us. The mid day naps, the card games, strolling the empty streets, and the numerous conversations that took place with complete strangers... it reminded us of what can come from silence surrounding you. Over that Shabbat, my friend shared a conversation with me that she had over the phone with her father. 'I made this realization', she said. 'For the first time in my life, I don't feel like I've landed yet. I think it's cause I feel like I'm home.'

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Yom Kippur is probably the most important Jewish holiday. It reminds us to atone for our sins,and ask forgiveness from the people we have hurt. But personally for me, it's a day of 'at one-ment', being introspective with yourself. It's not only a time to reflect on the food that keeps me alive during a time I'm not supposed to eat; rather, it's a time where my body is so weak that I am the most real and vulnerable with myself. The lack of energy forced me to look inside and see if I like who I am, what I have become, and where I want to go. Unlike Yom Kippur in the states where I was often an anomaly among friends at school or work, here I was among a common nation. In Israel, whether or not you observe, everything shuts down around you. When the Yom Kippur eve set in, I surprised at how particularly anxious I became. It hit me that everything just turned off. And I mean everything. But as I left services, I witnessed something I had only heard of in tales my parents told me of their childhood; people dressed in white, flooding the barren boulevards, kids riding bikes around them, a quiet comradery in the air. I spent the night wandering the streets.. and I spent the day sleeping in, writing, playing games, and sharing stories with friends. It seemed the things I'm grateful for are often illuminated during these times of silence. When the fast came to an end, I broke it with an apple and honey. It was a fresh, sweet way to awaken me and hope for a year of good health and inner peace for myself and loved ones.

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During a trip to Zichron Ya'akov, I experienced yet another type of silence. We enjoyed a local winery, eating along the quaint boardwalk, and skipping through the open parks. I stared on from look out points, and took in the beauty of the area. The views were lush and pastoral, the sky glittered with passing clouds, and nothing but the electric current of the faint city lights illuminating the air at night. We spent the first day relaxing in a local kibbutz pool, going down the water slide with children, and hearing their echoing laughter from our windows even when we weren't near. As evening fell, we ate with the sunset and strolled along to the local bar where we giggled and listened to nostalgic tunes. The next day we made our way to a friendly local Arab village to buy fruit and nuts, and visited a deserted beach with a gorgeous little island almost enchantingly placed in swimming distance from the shore. Peace and quiet.

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Sukkot is my favorite holiday. Maybe it's cause I was born around this time, as autumn begins to enter the atmosphere. There's something about the smell and the change of season that shakes me a little, in a good way. Sukkot reminds me of our fragility, to always look up at the stars, and of course.. to eat. I spent the holiday with friends and family, under a particularly impressive sukkah. During this time of year, people pray for the first rain. Sure enough, the rains did come, and with it, came my first thunder storm in Israel. Mind you, I'm still scared of thunder storms. But there it was, a friendly reminder of what this holiday is all about - becoming aware of how delicate we are, all of us beings affected by forces we can not control (and forces we shouldn't try to control). As I sat through the storm, my friends and I shut the shaking windows, laughed nervously, and thanked our lucky stars that we were covered under our little old roof.

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For past musicallyinclined articles, click here: And as always, enjoy the music..

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