The City of Haifa As Religious Kaleidoscope

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Roberto CIPRIANI, Università Roma Tre, Italy
The city of Haifa presents a number of significant traits that may help us test Tönnies’s idea (1963) of a dichotomy between community (Gemeinschaft) and society (Gesellschaft). In different moments of city life, we find features typical of community, in certain others, characteristics typical of society. At residential level, some houses are built in such a way as not to favour interaction between social actors, while others favour it so much as it appears to be something taken, practically, for granted.

It is one thing to live in large, multi-storey condominiums, another to reside in one/two-storey houses that favour a continuous, even specular, encounter of glances, voices, modes of behaviour. But there are also situations where given contextual conditions are nullified by the will of individuals who gather for mutually shared moments of convivium, celebration, ritual, entertainment, leisure. This is true of Jews, Muslims, Melkites, Maronites, Ahmadyya, Baha'i, Catholics and Protestants alike. In this sense, it is quite clear what strategic a role an occasion like the Holiday of Holidays, held in Haifa every year in December, can play.

The everyday life of Haifa undergoes a series of interactions involving people, one might say completely, and impacting on every sphere of their lives. This can be seen at neighbourhood, condominium, district and city level, depending on the contingencies of the moment, on local, regional, national, foreign or domestic socio-political events and on whether open or surreptitious conflict is taking place.