Graves as attractions: Pilgrimage-tourism to Jewish holy graves in Israel

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Pilgrimage, whether religious or secular, is experiencing resurgence around the world. This research deals with the phenomenon of pilgrimage to the graves of saintly Jews in Israel. Its aim is to analyze the characteristics of Jewish pilgrims to holy grave sites in Israel at the present time, and to assess the phenomenon of pilgrimage. This includes the motives for pilgrimage, activities during the pilgrimage, and the influence of tourism on it. The methods used include questionnaires at four different sites, interviews with the pilgrims, observations in situ, and participant observation. The findings show that the visitor population ranged widely from very religious orthodox pilgrims, through "traditional" pilgrim-tourists to secular tourists. The features of present-day pilgrims can be represented on a scale that may be described as secular versus spiritual, and tourism versus pilgrimage. This typology also offers a model for the development of the pilgrimage sites. The survey findings highlight the increasing convergence of old-fashioned pilgrimage and current tourism, which have much in common. Additionally, this research emphasizes the expanding nexus of holy sites, society, politics, ideology, and culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-89
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Cultural Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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