Old Beliefs - New Town: Construction of a Sacred Place in a Secular Liminal Surrounding

By Iris Aravot.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article focuses on the graves of Saints in Netivot, in the South of Israel. It describes a typical example of construction of a Sacred Place in a secular liminal surrounding, and reveals the reasons and circumstances of this phenomenon.
The article traces two parallel tracks: the first revolving around “erlebnis” and the second around “erfharung”, both connected to personal journeys to the new town of Netivot. The first journey is virtual, an excursion of learning. The second is a concrete journey, though in actual fact, it preceded the first. In the first journey, the author, a secular, Jewish, Israeli woman, discovers that the image of abstract Judaism on which she was raised and educated at an Israeli school is no more than one possible interpretation of Judaism. Throughout the virtual journey, she learns - “erfahrt - about the motives for this particular interpretation, as well as other forms of Judaism that have been relegated to the sidelines. As such, lowly images of popular rituals, i.e., worshipping graves of the righteous - “Zadikim”, including “immigrant saints” from North Africa, are revealed in their sublimity.
In the second journey, the same woman visits such graves in the town of Netivot. There, in light of the actual popular ritual, she sheds inculcated patterns and is open to seeing different veins of Judaism as equal in value, freed from the specific historical patterning familiar to her. This is an act of liberation; sublation in the sense of “aufhebung”. The two journeys contribute to each other, and are described in parallel. The reader/audience is invited to join hopping from one to the other.

Keywords: New Town, Sacred Place, Sublation

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.59-78. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.019MB).

Assoc. Prof. Iris Aravot

Associate Professor, Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion, I.I.T., Technion, I.I.T., Haifa, Israel