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Authentic Sights on Authentic Narratives on Taglit

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Publication Date: December 2001

Publisher(s): Association for Jewish Studies

Author(s): Shaul Kelner

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)
Education (Study abroad)

Keywords: American Jews; Israel experience

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Tourism is commonly dismissed as shallow, frivolous and inauthentic. Participants in Taglit generally felt they had an authentic and profound Jewish experience on the program. To explore how this could have happened in the face of expert predictions to the contrary, a constructivist notion of authenticity is adopted. Analysis of ethnographic data from the evaluation of Taglit reveals that tourists' perceptions of an authentic Jewish experience were rooted in perceptions of Jewish authenticity in both Israel and themselves. In both cases, these perceptions emerged through a process of a selective integration of disparate elements into coherent but simplified narratives.