Towards a Social History of Jewish Educational Tourism Research


Source: Hagira – Israel Journal of Migration vol. 5, 2016 pages 9-41


This article a socio-historic analysis of research on Jewish educational travel. Jewish educational travel has been pioneering in the field of educational-heritage travel in terms of practice and research. Programs such as group tours to Israel, Jewish summer camps, and pilgrimages to Shoah sites were among the first examples of organized educational heritage travel. They are well - established and have been adopted as models for other types of educational and heritage tourism. In the same vein, since their inception over half a century ago, these programs have been the subject of evaluation and academic study. This article offers a topology of the field, giving a broad perspective on how it has developed over time in terms of methodologies used, populations covered, questions addressed, and scope of surveys.


A fruitful next step in research on Jewish educational travel would be to move beyond program evaluations and towards a mega - assessment of the field. One element of this would be expansion of the populations surveyed to include, in addition to participants, other related parties, namely madrichim, applicants’ parents, Diaspora community leaders and educators, members of relevant Israeli government committees, and so forth. In this way, researchers could document the impact of the program on Diaspora community organizations and the hosts and operators in Israel. Another interesting population to investigate would be those who do not participate; this could give much insight into barriers to participation. The Taglit evaluation has included a sample of applicants as a control group; this aspect of the research could be expanded. Such a mega - evaluation should be international in scope, taking into account not only the large North American population but also the many smaller populations of participants from South American, Europe, the former Soviet Union, Australia, and South Africa. Research could further investigate sub - populations within each national population, considering demographic features such as denomination, age, gender, size of local Jewish community, and so forth. Furthermore, such research could take a comparative approach to different frameworks of educational travel. A recent study of Graham (2014) offers a case study comparing different types of Jewish education, including but not limited to travel, among British youth in which it was found that gap year programs in Israel have far more significant effects on Jewish identity than do short tours to Israel. A mega - evaluation could eventually assist in the mapping of educational priorities among the Jewish people. In this way, Jewish educational travel can be considered in the context of a global view regarding the policy of education and Diaspora - Israel relations.

Updated: Sep. 08, 2016