Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 55–72 | Cite as

The Cantor and The Muezzin’s Duet: Contested Soundscapes At Jerusalem’s Western Wall

  • Abigail WoodEmail author


A Jewish visual and religious icon of Jerusalem, the Western Wall is also a profoundly sensory space. In this article, I interrogate the interface between sound and space at the Western Wall, exploring the soundscape of Wall as a forum within which the multiple meanings and resonances, both literal and figurative, of this space are imagined and contested on a daily basis. While the physical environment of the Western Wall—as a historical and archaeological site—and its role in hegemonic Israeli discourses have been discussed at length by scholars, there has to date been relatively little discussion of the everyday practices, verbal or non-verbal, narrative or noisy, through which the wall has been (re)appropriated into contemporary Jewish life during the past five decades. Here, by focusing on the Western Wall plaza as a sensory space, I unpick this complicated and changing human landscape, where the politics of presence, proximity, and voice—on an individual, communal, and national level—are not only built into the physical location of the space, but are also creatively enacted and contested by the individuals and groups who come there to pray.


Western Wall Jerusalem Soundscape Jewish music Heterotopia 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Music Department, School of the ArtsUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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