Our apartment was right in the center of things – the very hub of activity. This was so especially during the night when we were trying to sleep.

A few hundred yards from our abode is a building that houses a large clock that chimes loudly every quarter of an hour. Each fifteen minutes the strikes increase in volume and quantity until the hour is almost reached. When this happy moment arrives, we are all treated to a jolly rendering of the nursery rhyme tune of “Oranges and Lemons.” This carries on for a few minutes, providing a musical concert for our enjoyment and entertainment. The tune concludes with the somber notes of the clock chiming the hour. The midday melody and twelve strokes at noon last for five minutes!

At 11:00 at night, the musical section retires until 7:00 the next morning. This is a good opportunity for us also to retire.

At 11:30, half an hour later, we were awakened by a loud clattering and banging downstairs. I rushed down to investigate. I discovered a non-Jewish person cleaning up the kollel. He refused to give me his name, but he must have been a Litvak, as he wished me “Salom Aleikem” and said he was quite well, “Boruk Hasem.”

At midnight, the cleaning up noises ceased and I was able to finally doze off again into a deep sleep… for about five minutes. There seemed to be a major competition going on between the police, fire and ambulance departments. Vehicles from each department zoomed and rushed along – right beneath our window – with their sirens blaring, wailing and warbling in an uncontrollable frenzy. Each vehicle tried to outdo the others in loudness and shrillness. Only a devilish lunatic could have devised such awful and crazy sounds. They may not have “awakened the dead,” but the living could certainly not sleep in this din.

Thankfully, these strident noises and wailing effects died down an hour later and I managed to get some undisturbed sleep, for a half an hour.

At 2:00 a.m., an impromptu – and apparently very important – conference began. It took place between two rival gangs. I am not completely certain about the nature of this meeting, but it began with an animated discussion of methods and efforts to help improve the welfare and benefit of the community. However, some disagreements soon surfaced, quickly leading to heated altercations. Within minutes this had progressed to fights and fisticuffs. A number of cars then arrived on the scene with their horns blaring non-stop. This was rather an advantage because it masked the screams and cries of anguish of the injured and maimed.

By 3:00 a.m. all was peaceful again. I was enjoying a lovely restful sleep. I was at a farbrengen where everyone was singing extremely freilicher niggunim, in time to the Rebbe’s quick and lively beat. I suddenly awoke and realized that it was not a dream. It also was not the Rebbe. About twenty young men had returned from a wedding and decided to continue the festivities right beneath our bedrooms! This went on non-stop for one and a half hours. They went through the entire Lubavitch repertoire. It would have been a most pleasant affair had it been 4:30 in the afternoon! (Later, when I went to 770 to daven shacharis – at 9:20 a.m. – sleeping and inert yeshiva bodies occupied most of the benches. Lucky boys! They can sleep anywhere, anytime!)

At 5:15 a.m. there was a loud and reverberating bang on our door. I nearly jumped out of my pajamas. “Who is it?” I stuttered and shouted.

“It’s me, Yossi,” said a small voice.

“What do you want?” I thundered.

“What time is it?” he asked. He was afraid he would be late for school. He demanded to know the exact time. I was terribly annoyed and packed him off to bed. The night had become one long nightmare. My body was aching and my brain spinning. I fell into a deep sleep, when, once again, a

rat-a-tat-tat on the door. And there he was, Yossi once more, needing the precise time. It was only half an hour since his last inquiry and I was really mad. Roselyn lent him her watch which he subsequently broke through overwinding; he was afraid the watch would stop.

It was now 6:00 a.m. The cycle began again with garbage trucks rumbling past on their daily routines clattering away as they did. A new day had now commenced. The police, fire and ambulance services began their day shifts and were continuing their competition for the most ruckus and weird sounds.

At 7:00 a.m. the nursery rhymes started up again.

It took Roselyn and me nearly half an hour to wake Yossi up and he was nearly late for school after all that!