PBS Travel Show “Sacred Journeys” Follows Religious Pilgrimages

sacred journey

PBS TV series Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler is a religious show exploring the experiences of people who visited holy shrines and how it changed their lives.

Follow along with real people as they explore their religion in a deeper way through a sacred journey. This six-part series follows real Americans of all faiths as they seek to change their lives and deepen their faith. A pilgrimage is a journey of action, seeing and experiencing new things, foods and moments. You can watch all the episodes, and share your own sacred journeys at PBS. It premiered December 16 and showcases the beauty and history of India, Japan, France, Nigeria, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Bruce Feiler: The Man Behind the Show

Bruce Feiler, the author of 6 bestsellers including Walking the Bible and the writer for the ‘This Life’ column in the New York Times, sat down with ReformJudaism for an interview. He shared details and experiences of his life that led him to this show.

Through his 20s, he traveled constantly “like a bungee jumper.”

“The first time I visited Jerusalem, the bungee cord stuck. I felt connected.” He was visiting with a friend, who showed him the Golden Dome and explained that it covered the rock Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac on. “I thought, ‘Here in this place, you can touch and feel history’.”

He explains sacred journeys for anyone who is unclear. “In a sacred journey, you are searching for answers to questions.” There are several stages for most people who undergo a sacred journey. The first step starts with the call, “the idea of feeling summoned,” followed by preparation and anticipation. The journey itself often comes with struggles and suffering, from less sleep to strange foods. “Arrival can bring ecstasy or disappointment.” The final stage is returning home, and reflecting on your experiences and how they will affect you.

According to a UN study related to The First World Congress on Pilgrimage, it was reported that 330 million people a year are pilgrims, on their own personal sacred journey. There are many Jewish pilgrimage sites, including the gravesite of a sainted rabbi in Morocco, the grave of a Chasidic master in Russia, concentration camp memorial sites in Poland and Ellis Island.

“It’s important to understand that we live in a time when the dominant metaphor is search, whether spiritual or Google. Young searchers are not drawn to a building open at times not of their choosing, where they sit in a pew passively while someone steps up on a high mountain and lectures from a book. They want to do things in their own time and in their own space.”


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