Authentic Sights and Authentic Narratives on Taglit

Publication Date: December 2001

Publisher: Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies; City University of New York. Graduate School and University Center. Dept. of Sociology

Author(s): Shaul Kelner

Research Area: Business; Education

Keywords: Israel Experience; Values; Jewish Youth

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Tourism is commonly dismissed as shallow, frivolous and inauthentic. When an Israel experience program known as Taglit sought to use tourism for the purposes of Jewish education, the standard criticisms made of tourism were also applied to it. In spite of this, participants on 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