טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentShani Noga
SubjectThe City of Safed: Between a 'Religioua Center' and
'State Periphery'
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisors Dr. Meirav Aharon
Dr. Yosef Jabareen
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

A main feature of holy cities is that they mainly act as central cities. Holy cities are centers for pilgrimage, and as such, they are magnets for important economic, political and social development. However, during the last sixty six years the status of Israel’s holy cities has significantly deteriorated; instead of functioning as central cities, policy makers currently perceive them as peripheral places.

By conducting an urban-ethnographic examination within a Breslov Hasidim in the city of Safed, this study offers a critical examination of the relations between 'center' and 'periphery' in the state of Israel. Although ‘center’ and ‘periphery’ are culturally dependent and relational categories, both concepts have recently gone through a process of objectification. This objectification determines the status of cities in Israel in general and the status of holy cities in particular.

            This research examines the status of holy cities in Israel, as simultaneously being a religious center and in-state periphery - without perceiving either of these categories as canceling each other out. In the first chapter the findings show that the tension between the religious centrality and the in-state peripheral status of Safed can be explained by the concept of 'Avodat Ha-makom' (which literally translates to work of the place, but is commonly used to describe the worship of god). Moreover, the Breslov Hasidim community is involved in 'Avodat Ha-makom' in both meanings which are mentioned above: On the one hand, the worship of god and on the other - urban-spatial work. This dialectical concept pinpoints on twofold attributes of the action of worship: on the one hand 'worship of God' strengthens the city as a holy center yet limits individuals' ability to enter the labor market. Hence, on the other hand it perpetuates the place's status as a 'state periphery'.

The second chapter findings present the intensive and meaningful associations between Breslov Hasidim in Safed and other Jewish communities around the world. In this research I have found that in resemblance to global cities, Safed maintain intensive transnational connections. Therefore, in similarity to global cities, Safed’s status can be examined not only in the scope of the national state, but also in the global arena. Akin to the global city, the holy city encourages movement, flow, pilgrimages, and is located on the global network exchanging finances and ideas and providing its inhabitants with a strong sense of identity. As such, it functions as a central city.