Veneration and Critique: Israel, the Sociology of American Judaism and the Problematics of Sovereignty

2016. In Jewish Studies Quarterly 23, 194–221. Both the erosion of state sovereignty and the conceptual reassessments that have emerged in response to this erosion provide the context for this consideration of American Jewish religious engagement with the State of Israel. Theorizations of sovereignty can be helpful for thinking about the relationship between American Judaism…

Posted by on October 18, 2018 in Articles, Research, , , ,

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Encounters and Journeys: Cultivating Jewish Peoplehood?

This December 2015 blogcast sponsored by the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education focuses on travel as a form of Jewish education, ethical engagement and community-building. Click here to view.

Posted by on December 19, 2015 in Media, , , , ,

Diaspora, Indigenous and Minority Education

Historical Perspectives on Diaspora Homeland Tourism: ‘Israel Experience’ Education in the 1950s and 1960s

2013. In Diaspora, Indigenous and Minority Education 7(2): 99–113. Homeland tourism is a powerful medium of diasporic education. Yet efforts to understand the enterprise are hampered by neglect of the field’s history. This article contributes to the historiography of diaspora homeland tourism by examining the emergence American Jewish educational tours of Israel in the 1950s and…

Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Articles, Research, , , , , , ,


Constructing Jewish Belonging through Mass Tourism: Self-Narration in Israel Experience Programs

2011. An exploration of how identity narratives are constructed on  Birthright Israel. Shaul Kelner. 2011. “Constructing Jewish Belonging through Mass Tourism: Self-Narration in Israel Experience Programs.” Chapter 9 in Harvey E. Goldberg, Steven M. Cohen and Ezra Kopelowitz, eds. Dynamic Belonging: Contemporary Jewish Collective Identities. New York: Berghahn Books. Pp. 171-187.

Posted by on December 10, 2011 in Articles, Chapters, Research, , , ,

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Tours That Bind

TOURS THAT BIND Diaspora, Pilgrimage and Israeli Birthright Tourism New York University Press, 2010 View on Amazon Since 1999 hundreds of thousands of young American Jews have visited Israel on an all-expense-paid 10-day pilgrimage-tour known as Birthright Israel. The most elaborate of the state-supported homeland tours that are cropping up all over the world, this…

Posted by on October 11, 2011 in , , , , , , ,


From Shrine to Forum: Masada and the Politics of Jewish Extremism

2008. Israel Studies 13(2): 146-63. With Theodore Sasson. Zionist collective memory has long associated Masada with the struggle to secure Jewish sovereignty over the land of Israel. This article examines the effects of the political upheavals of the Oslo and post-Oslo periods on the meanings ascribed to Masada. It documents the popularity of a critical…

Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Articles, Research, , , ,

Contemporary Jewry Journal Cover

The Impact of Israel Experience Programs on Israel’s Symbolic Meaning

2003-4. Contemporary Jewry 24: 124-154. Ethnographic study of Israel experience programs reveals processes by which Israel becomes cognitively and affectively meaningful to American Jews. A Durkheimian analysis suggests that feelings generated by an intense group experience are preserved in symbolic residue that re-evokes these feelings. For American Jewish travelers, Israel comes to serve as a…

Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Articles, Research, , , ,


Serious Fun The Jerusalem Post June 28, 2010 When Birthright was launched a decade ago, skeptics dismissed the 10-day tours of Israel as little more than a free party for privileged college kids. It was an unfair critique, but it gained traction because it combined the ever popular lament about the “youth of today” with…

Posted by on August 3, 2011 in , , , , , , ,


Forward Core Connection By Harriet Hartman July 14, 2010 How Birthright Israel works. Tablet Magazine Breeding Zionism by Adam Kirsch June 15, 2010 Is the Birthright Israel tour designed to foster a love of Israel or is it simply a chance to hook up? The Jerusalem Post A Guided Tour of Birthright by Abigail Klein…

Posted by on August 3, 2011 in , , , , , , ,


CHAPTERS 1 DEPLOYING TOURISM How did a leisure activity like tourism come to figure as a political strategy for building bridges between nation states and transnational diasporas? This chapter introduces the case of Israeli “birthright” tours for diaspora Jews, situating it in the context of the broader field of diaspora tourism that is growing in…

Posted by on August 3, 2011 in , , , , ,