Pilgrimages of nostalgia: Patterns of jewish travel in the United States


Research concerning the relationships between tourism and religion has focused on pilgrimages and other forms of religious-oriented travel as they apply mainly to Christianity and Islam, although some authors have explored the subject within the context of eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. By contrast, relatively little research has been done on the travel patterns of Jewish people, especially outside Israel. This paper, therefore, focuses on Jewish travel within the United States, examining, in particular, the influence that Jewish culture and religion have in defining the motivation among American Jews to travel domestically and in shaping their choice of destination. The paper reports on a preliminary study of a small multi-denominational congregation in a midwestern community. An important finding is that, when on vacation, many American Jews, regardless of whether they belong to orthodox or more moderate sects will often seek out Jewish sites, such as synagogues, homes of famous persons, and entire neighbourhoods. These side-trips to Jewish sites can be labelled “pilgrimages of nostalgia, ” a phenomenon that is not purely religious. Instead they reflect the high importance that Judaism assigns in identifying with the ways of one’s ancestors. For Jews, visiting Jewish sites is a way of expressing their association with their culture and their religious heritage.


Geography, Geology, and Planning

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Tourism Recreation Research