The Kibbutz

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Waking up on a Kibbutz is one of the most cherished memories in all of my travels.

It’s such a surreal concept – a community where wealth was owned and shared by its members.

It’s a lifestyle I could have never comprehended without actually experiencing it through all the senses.

Frankly, I was a little surprised that I’d heard little about it and what I did know didn’t prompt further conversation, or curiosity.

The Hebrew word, ‘Kibbutz’ translates to  ‘gathering’ and that’s just what it is – a gathering of people who got together in 1910 and formed a self-sufficient community.

Since the establishment of the first Kibbutz opposite the Sea of Galilee, hundreds of Kibbutzim sprouted through the country and contributed enormously to Israel’s economic output.

Kibbutz Gan Shmuel on Shavuot 1959

How does a Kibbutz function?

Typically a Kibbutz provides its members housing, living, medical and education costs in return for their labour.

Labour could be anything from cooking at the central dining hall, working in the factory, farming the land, looking after the children at the nursery, or even being a lifeguard at the pool.

It basically depended on what labour the Kibbutz required on any given day.

Division of labour existed, but roles were always subject to change based on daily needs.

Profits were discussed openly so members could vote on where funds could be allocated.

Funds wouldn’t be limited to maintenance, or say upgrading the pool the Kibbutz also invested in its people.

Education and holidays were paid for – both local, or international.

Kibbutzim became must-see places for travellers which welcomed them as volunteers.

Some volunteers who planned on short visits still remain on Kibbutzim decades later!

What happened to the Kibbutz model?

After over a hundred years of the growth and spread of Kibbutzim, many now have steered away from the original model.

A lot of Kibbutzim privatised their land giving members the ability to own their own homes and renovate them as they see fit.

Factories and agricultural businesses were also privatised, which saw members work outside the Kibbutz.

The sight of private ownership of cars within Kibbutzim signalled the coming end of an era.

But, there are a number of reasons as to why the original model only functions in very few Kibbutzim.

Watch my documentary to find out more as I tour guide you on traditional transportation – a bike!

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