The first kibbutzim were created to establish Israel as a unique collective community based on socialism and Zionism. A typical kibbutz consisted of a closely-knit social grouping that shared all property and products. Kibbutzim started as agriculture communities, and later, they also got involved in manufacturing and services.
For example, Kfar Glickson is a kibbutz in the northern coastal plain of Israel that was established in 1939 by Jewish immigrants from Hungary and Romania. This kibbutz consists of 300 residents, and it relies on agriculture such as field crops and a dairy farm, also relying on a small handcraft industry and tourism.
General Information about Kibbutz
Nowadays, there are 270 kibbutzim in Israel. Most of these communities have adapted to social and economic changes since Israel became a developed country with a liberal economy, compromising on different aspects of the original kibbutz. A moshav is a different sort of cooperative farmers’ village that exists only in Israel, and it was created in the first part of the 20th century. Unlike the kibbutz, the moshav members have economic autonomy, although they share various components of mutual assistance.
Nahalal is the first moshav established in 1921, and it is an extraordinary example of a rural organisation. This village is developed around a circular axis, with the farmers’ houses arranged around an imaginary round table as a symbolic display of equality and collective spirit. The public buildings are inside the inner circle, and the agricultural fields are arranged in all directions to emulate the sun’s rays. Water sources irrigate the fields.
Details About The Kibbutz And Historical Chronicles
The kibbutz in Hebrew means a communal settlement. It is a unique rural community where the society is devoted to exchanged support and social equity with a socioeconomic system based on joint possession of properties, equity, a collaboration of production, education, and consumption. The first kibbutzim were founded 40 years before the independence of the State of Israel.
One of the first kibbutzim is Degania, which is situated in the southern area of Lake Kinneret. It was established in 1909 by a group of young Jewish pioneers coming from Eastern Europe in a land that belonged to the Jewish National Fund. These pioneers reclaimed the land of the ancient Jewish homeland, and they also wanted to start a new life. The beginning of their life has been challenging due to a hostile environment, inexperience in agriculture, a deserted land, insufficiency of water and lack of funds. Nowadays, there are 270 kibbutzim, each one consisting of 40 to 1000 members, across Israel. The total number of people living in kibbutzim is almost 130 thousand that is 2.5% of the total population of Israel.
The Organization Of The Kibbutz
The kibbutzim are organised similarly. A kibbutz area is a residential place that includes the members’ houses with gardens, children’s playgrounds, communal buildings like auditorium, library, dining room, swimming pool, tennis court, medical clinic, laundry room, and grocery. Inside the kibbutz, there are also chicken coops, industrial plants, and around the perimeter of the inner area, there are agricultural fields, orchards, and fish ponds. Inside the kibbutz, everyone walks or rides bicycles, and for disabled people and the elderly, there are electric carts available. The organisation of the kibbutz is based on democracy, and there is a general assembly of all the kibbutz members to formulate policy, elect officers, authorise the kibbutz budget and approve new members. The general assembly of a kibbutz is both a decision-making structure and a forum that allows the members to express opinions and points of view. Every day the elected committees of the kibbutz deal with affairs concerning culture, finance, health, housing, and production planning. The kibbutz executives are the chairpersons of the committees and the secretary. These roles are full-time positions, but the members of the committees have their regular jobs.
Working The Land Of Israel
The first pioneers who worked the soil of the land of Israel lived like farmers following an ideology and not only with the purpose to earn a living. During several years, the kibbutz farmers made a miracle while working hard on a desert and desolate land, making it bloom and producing field crops, orchards, poultry, dairy and fish farming, and nowadays organic agriculture. A mix of hard work and advanced farming technologies made improve the structure and the products of every kibbutz of Israel. The industry of the kibbutzim expanded into different branches of manufacturing, such as clothing and irrigation systems. Nevertheless, most of the kibbutz industry is focused on producing metalwork, plastics and processed foods.
Every industrial facility consists of a maximum of a hundred workers. Some kibbutzim own enterprises like cotton gins and poultry-packing plants, and they also provide computer data compilation, marketing and purchasing services. Kibbutzim contribute to the country production with 33% of agriculture products and 6.3% of industrial goods. And nowadays, kibbutzim also joined the tourism industry becoming tourist centres and offering recreational facilities, swimming pools, horseback riding, tennis, museums, exotic animal farms and water parks, attracting both Israelis and foreign visitors. With the growth of the urban centres and Israel’s population, a part of kibbutzim became part of the suburbs of cities.
Working In A Kibbutz
Work is fundamental in the ideology of every kibbutz, and it is the concept of dignity of labour that elevates every job performed in it. Members of a kibbutz get a position for a specific time, and everyone performs the kitchen and dining hall duties at different times. Every economic branch is managed by an elected administrator, who organises the work of the other units, the production and the investment plans. Women work in the kind of job available for them inside the kibbutz. Most of the women in a kibbutz are devoted to positions such as education and health. Some members work in the kibbutz, some are employed in enterprises, some get educational and political employments, and others get a profession outside the kibbutz. Many kibbutzim offer accommodations to young volunteers from Israel and abroad for a month or more in exchange for work.
Children Raised In Kibbutzim
Children raised in kibbutzim live at their parents’ house up to high school age. During the day, children spend time with their companions in facilities for different ages children. The parents join their children in their activities, and children are educated following the values of the kibbutz, such as the importance of work and sharing. The educational system underlines the importance of daily cooperation educating the young children to perform age-appropriate tasks, while the older children have some job in the kibbutz. During high school, teenagers are dedicated a day per week to work in a branch of the kibbutz. Additionally, older children attend a regional kibbutz high school, and almost 40% of all children go back to settle in their original kibbutz after the army service. Indeed, most of the kibbutz members who grow up in their kibbutz build their life there.
Individual And Communal Needs Of The Kibbutz
Every kibbutz is a communal society that allows every member to assume their responsibility and commitment to contribute to the welfare of the kibbutz. Kibbutz provides a social framework and economic stability to each member. Today, every kibbutz member has a wide choice to select clothing, home furniture, and holiday plans. Moreover, there are more opportunities to participate in higher education.
Contribution Of The Kibbutz To The State Of Israel
Besides being a kind of settlement and a lifestyle, the kibbutz is an essential part of Israeli society. In the beginning, the kibbutz had a central function in agricultural development, defence, immigration, and settlement. Once the government assumed these functions, the kibbutz kept its involvement in Israel’s political life and other national tasks. Many kibbutzim offer five-month courses for new immigrants combining intensive Hebrew language classes, tours in Israel, and lectures on different aspects of Israeli life, including a period of work in the kibbutz. Participants who stay in the kibbutz become members. Moreover, some kibbutzim accept youngsters from disadvantaged families during their high school period, and among them, some decide to join the kibbutz community.
Traditions Of The Kibbutz
The kibbutz improved to celebrate Jewish festivals, national holidays, weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, and anniversaries uniquely. Additionally, every kibbutz has renovated seasonal and agricultural events with song, dance, and other art forms. Besides various programs, cultural activities such as films and professional performances are diffused in the kibbutz auditoriums. The kibbutz movements sponsor professional groups such as symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, modern and folk dance companies, choirs and theatre companies. Some kibbutzim founded museums dedicated to archaeology, nature, art, Jewish history and the development of the land of Israel.
The Future Of The Kibbutz
The kibbutz is a unique social-economic structure that flourished with an expanding economy and contributed to the establishment and development of Israel. Driven by powerful beliefs of a distinctive ideology, the founders formed a society with a unique collective lifestyle. Born into the kibbutz structure, their children strengthened its economic, social, and administrative systems. The contemporary generation, which grew up in an organised and wealthy society, uses its strengths and abilities to face modern life in the technological age.
The kibbutz aims to maintain its democratic nature, the spirit of voluntarism with commitment and idealism to create a resource that contributes to Israel welfare.