Jerusalem: City of Dreams, City of Sorrows


  • Thomas Ricks



Cultural and social foundations, Holy City, Jerusalem, Study abroad, City, Intellectual context, Cultural context, Three Jerusalems


Note: The text of Thomas Ricks’ article that was published in the print version was not the text approved by the author. Frontiers apologizes for this error. The article linked here contains the unedited text as approved by its author.

The paper focuses on the cultural and social foundations of the Holy City of Jerusalem both past and present, and strategies for helping U.S. study abroad students understand these foundations. The City underwent a number of social and cultural transformations from the Islamic and Arab 7thcentury to the present. In evolving from a pilgrimage site to a major walled administrative, religious, and commercial center, Jerusalem began to dominate Palestine’s western coasts, highlands, and the eastern Jordan River valley during the 16thto 19thOttoman centuries. From World War One to the 1948 War, tensions began to build within Palestine and Jerusalem resulting from the British occupation and a dramatic rise in Zionist European Jewish immigrants. The Jewish arrivals were building an independent state within the British colony of Palestine and began to dominate the daily lives of the Palestinians of both the New and Old Jerusalem. With the 1948 establishment of the Jewish State of Israel, the most visible cleavages between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem’s life became apparent with the city literally divided in half with most of the New City occupied by Israeli forces, and the parts of the New and all the Old City by Jordanian soldiers. Various learning strategies are offered to help students grasp some of the intellectual context and cultural riches of today’s “three Jerusalems.”



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Author Biography

Thomas Ricks

Thomas M. Ricks, Ph.D., an Associate Editor of Frontiers, and an independent scholar of Middle East social and cultural history, was the director of International Studies and Overseas Programs at Villanova University for fifteen years. Dr. Ricks is presently completing a social history of the Iranian city of Tabriz and the fate of one of the American teachers (Howard Baskerville, d. 1909) who taught in the Memorial School for Boys in that city. In 2009, he completed a study on Khalil Totah, a Palestinian Quaker educator, and his diaries, and is also completing a social and cultural history of the schools of Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem for the British Mandate period. 


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How to Cite

Ricks, T. (2011). Jerusalem: City of Dreams, City of Sorrows. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 20(1), 1–16.