Exploring How Pilgrimage Experiences Affect Identity: Place, Religion, Culture, Community, and Individuality
This study uses a pilgrimage experience in Israel as one example to inform the process through which identification with Judaism and Israel is formed. Participants expressed their identification in response to events and experiences that were part of their pilgrimage to Israel. I was able to capture these expressions of sensemaking through a process of oral journaling. Participants responded to a daily prompt (i.e., What one thing happened today that you'll remember most?) as a means of reflecting on meaningful experiences that shaped their understanding of their relationship to faith and place (Henry, 1994). I relied on both quantitative (i.e., pre and post-survey) and qualitative (a narrative analysis of the participants' daily journals) methods to investigate changes in identification. This pilgrimage, in particular, was designed to influence young adults; to strengthen their identification with Judaism and Israel. This pilgrimage relies on rhetorical narrative (Suddaby, Foster, & Trank, 2010) to create opportunities for participants to engage in sensemaking and reflection (Boud, Keogh, & Walker, 1985). The participants' lived experience within the group, and throughout their pilgrimage journey is at the heart of this narrative research.