Contemporary Jewish tourism

Pilgrimage, religious heritage and educational tourism

Authored by: Noga Collins-Kreiner

Routledge Handbook on Tourism in the Middle East and North Africa

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138651920
eBook ISBN: 9781315624525
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the connections between Judaism and tourism in the Middle East in a historical and contemporary perspective. Each of the chapter’s three sections is devoted to a different segment of Jewish tourism, deriving from a different type of relationship between the Jewish religion and tourism, as well as to a different historical period: pilgrimage travel in Judaism in the pre-modern era, Jewish pilgrimage tourism in the modern period, and current Jewish heritage tourism. It is based on the premise that although Jewish pilgrimage constituted the initial building block of Jewish tourism and for this reason must be the first element considered by any analysis, broadening our understanding also requires consideration of the ways in which Jewish tourism has developed over the years, from a religion-based duty to heritage-focused popular visitation. This chapter aims to contribute to the literature by investigating a topic that has thus far evaded thorough exploration: the sensitive and complex relationship amongst Judaism, tourism, pilgrimage, heritage, culture and politics. Understanding the context in which these elements have developed and interacted within Jewish culture enables us to better understand the complex relationship between Judaism and tourism in both the past and the present. My main argument is that Jewish tourism today is a complex term that brings together a wide variety of sites, motives, visitors, meanings, worldviews and identities and appears to be well suited to more fluid theorisations of the conceptual boundaries between ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’, as the sacred comes increasingly to encompass practices and sites that are not necessarily religious at all.

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