On the slope of Mt. Carmel in Haifa is a cave dedicated to the prophet Elijah – it is a spiritual oasis where people come to pray make vows and give thanks to the Lord via his mediator Elijah. Not only Jews come, but also Christians, Moslems and Druze.
The film defines different holy traditions connected to the place and the human need to pray individually, not through any institutionalized framework. It makes a strong statement for brotherhood in these difficult times. The film carries a message that there is a place for everyone.
A place for Everyone, sounds almost like an election slogan. When I started to be interested in popular culture I didn’t know it would turn into a personal voyage.
For some years I taught a course at Beit Berl College on: “Pilgrims and Pilgrimages to Holy Places in the Holy Land” at the History Department.
This is how the idea to document one of the more unique places in Israel started.
As a teacher as well as the Director of the film I was looking for the Motivation for pilgrimages, the traditions which evolved around certain places, the ways in which these traditions were transmitted shaped and spread, the cult relating to each tradition, and finally the social groups or individuals participating in the pilgrimages.
I was lucky to have a student like Ayelet Baranes who wanted to do something special. I suggested to her to do a research on Elijah’s Cave one of the oldest places of veneration used continuously since the Biblical times. She took this challenge…. Later on all her family got involved in the project. And I discovered that I could not resist her when she asked me to come along with her again and again to the Cave to discover with her more and more faces dimensions of the “holy-spirit” of this “Green Hill overlooking the Haifa Port”…
On the surface it looked like an obsession of one student but this was not quite so. I managed to raise the funds for a professional film because her discovery about this place carries a unique message in our polarized reality of hatred and violence.
A Place for Everyone reflects an interesting observation about popular beliefs and about the possibility of different believers to venerate each according to his tradition at the same place.
The film makes another statement: Only ina place where no formal authority has taken possession people can meet as people talk at eye level without the restrictions or constrictions of prejudices.
Popular cult is growing from below as long as officials do not interfere..
In my long teaching career about 25 years on a college level, I have dedicated many of my courses in the history department to topics dealing with the issue of “Tolerance” “Respect through knowledge of the other “ Popular culture- a key to human understanding.
Jews Moslems Druze and Christians praying side by side at a time when the political situation is rather loaded is a source of hope and encouragement. Moreover it’s a proof that the people need to pray and that private human problems have a stronger common denominator than the animosity generated by war or by religious fanatics.
I hope that this film with it’s out cry to the Israeli religious authorities to leave this place free of impositions will be a source of inspiration and a model for something that can exist= co-existence in peace.