Twin Cities—A Matter of Identity and Belonging


Source: Philosophy Study, Vol. 7, No. 9, 463-476

The term “twin cities” refers to a program in which cities from different places in the world form a “twinning” alliance that serves as a setting for educational, cultural, political, and social collaborations (Grosspietsch 2009). The purpose of the program is to promote the twin cities in all aspects of life (Jayne, Hubbard, and Bell 2013) and facilitate a feeling of belonging and identity among their residents (Ogawa 2012). In the current study, the cities of Beer Sheva and Nahariya were taken as case studies for examining the contribution of the program to promoting residents’ feeling of belonging to their Jewish identity. Specifically, the current study attempted to examine the effect of town of residence and age group on feeling of belonging, and whether familiarity with the Twin Cities program affected the feeling of belonging to Jewish identity, in the assumption that residents familiar with the program would report a stronger feeling of belonging than residents not familiar with it.

The study included 147 participants aged 17-64, of them 80 residents of Beer Sheva and 67 of Nahariya. All the participants were recruited to the study voluntarily and were requested to complete an online self-report questionnaire examining feeling of belonging to Jewish identity. Moreover, an interview was conducted with the representative of the delegations at the Amal school in Nahariya, to reaffirm the findings.

The research findings refuted the main research assumption that the Twin Cities program would influence the feeling of belonging. In fact, the current study indicates that no correlation was found between feeling of belonging and any of the research measures, aside from religiosity. Furthermore, and in contrast to the hypothesis, the research findings indicate that participants who were not familiar with the program reported a stronger feeling of belonging than participants who were familiar with it.

Due to the surprising findings, the current study raises the possibility that the Twin Cities program is undergoing a process of change and thus promotes individual values more than collective values. This contention changes the essential purpose of the program and this is the significance of the current study. 

Updated: Feb. 12, 2018