The Cave of the Patriarchs is located at the heart of Hebron in the West Bank. It is a place of worship for both Muslims and Jews. Since the Baruch Goldstein Massacre in 1994, the Cave is physically divided between Jews and Muslims: 80% of the cave’s area is a mosque and 20% is a synagogue, while the Israeli IDF controls the only doorway. However, the room from which the Muezzin calls for prayer was left within the Jewish area and the muslim clergy holds the only key to the door.
In order for the muezzin to call the daily A’zan (prayer), a particular arrangement has been made by the Israeli authorities to allow the Muezzin to enter the Jewish part of the Cave. Five armed soldiers meet him at the dividing door and escort him through a narrow passageway within the synagogue, until they reach the room’s green door. The Muezzin proceeds to open the door and locks it behind him. He settles in, prepares himself, and calls the Adh’an through a amplifying sound system, echoing his prayer throughout the cave and city outside. The soldiers guard the door all the while, and once the Muezzin is finished they escort him back to the mosque area. Because of local politics between the Jewish and Muslim communities, the call is preformed only four times a day. The fifth time is taken over by a call for “Mincha” (a Jewish evening prayer) uniquely developed by the local Hazan, reminiscing of the Muezzin’s call. These events are part of the surreal routines which maintain the fragile statusquo in the Cave for the past decades.
The vents around the Muslim call for prayer at the Cave of the Patriarchs involve all three inhabitants: the Army, the religious Jews, and the Muslim believers. In this work, Pereg follows the Muezzin’s journey from the Mosque through the synagogue and back, during one whole day: from the first call for prayer at 4am till the last at 9pm. Her works concentrates on the performative qualities of routine events which proceed religious events. These qualities relate to the bond between ritual and territory, and are heightened by the particular mergence of time and place. This work follows ABRAHAM ABRAHAM and SARAH SARAH (2012) and continues the artist’s ongoing interest in the Cave of the Patriarchs, at this pivoting moment in Israel.
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