Pilgrimage holy sites: A classification of Jewish holy sites in Israel

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This paper deals with Jewish pilgrimage sites in Israel. The research analyzes the characteristics of Jewish holy sites in present-day Israel, in terms of the fundamental concepts introduced into the study of pilgrimage by Turner (1969; 1973), Turner and Turner (1978), and Cohen (1992). The paper concentrates on a critique of the Turners' concept of the location of the pilgrimage centers, following which the connection between pilgrimage and tourism emerges. The method used includes observation of different Jewish holy sites in Israel and interviewing pilgrims to these sites. The study develops a continuum along which characteristic features of the sites can be rated. The dimensions of the continuum are described in terms of formality versus popularity, peripherality versus centrality, and tourism versus pilgrimage. The continuum links increased formality in ritual with central sites and decreased formality with peripheral sites, which also have elements of tourism, folklore, and secularism. The study of Jewish holy sites indicates significant disparities with the location of pilgrimage centers that were claimed by the Turners to be typically marginal and peripheral to sociopolitical centers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-78
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Cultural Geography
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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