Oded Ambar Tour Guide in Israel
The first kibbutz was created 100 years ago in 1909. Here’s how. A flow of Jewish pioneers moved to the land that is now Israel, and some grouped together to be a farming community. But there was trouble with the boss, who was a good farmer, but a horrible manager. So, 7 of the group decided to leave and start their own farm with no boss at all. They would make all decisions together and everything they owned would be shared equally. This was the first kibbutz, and over time, more and more kibbutzim got set up like this.
The main principles of a kibbutz were
- Equality: everyone is equal
- Democracy: all decisions are made by the group
Community comes first … individual needs come second
- Work is meaningful above all else
- No private property: everything is shared
Can you imagine not having your own TV, your own radio, or even your own coffee maker?
To access these things, kibbutz members had a central building…where they also had communal dining. Imagine if you ate every meal of your life with all your neighbours. Jobs on the kibbutz were assigned. However, you wouldn’t keep that job for your entire life. You switched jobs after 1-2 years. This is so that you experienced both the jobs that you found pleasant, and the ones you disliked. Managers of job stations changed every 2-3 years.
This speech so far, has been about adults on the kibbutz. Now, I’ll talk about children. Children didn’t live at home with their parents. They lived in a “children’s house”. Their parents would tuck them in at night, but otherwise, the kids were at school and with their age groups. Can you imagine living like this? It would have been like going to summer camp all year round, with the exception of your parents tucking you into bed at night.
Notice that I’ve been using past tense here. This is because over time kibbutzim have changed quite a bit. Nowadays, things are very modern and different.
Now, children sleep and live at home with their parents. Now, there are spare houses to be rented out to non-members. Now, for extra money, kibbutzim offer services like laundry to the public. Now, kibbutzim rent buildings to outside businesses like chocolate makers. Now, kibbutzim own restaurants and hotel rooms within their grounds. Not everything is farming based anymore.
One very different thing is that everyone now gets different salaries. It used to be that everyone, no matter what job they had, got the same amount of money. The problem with that was that some people worked less than they were supposed to, but still got their same pay.
Another big change on the kibbutz is being allowed to have private property like your own television, radio, coffee maker, and car. You are also now permitted to eat meals with your family, in your home.
Today, Israel has 256 kibbutzim, and though only 3% of the country’s population lives on them, they have been very important to the farming and development of Israel. They account for 50% of Israel’s agricultural goods and 9% of industrial goods.
From each according to their ability to each according to their need. Everyone gives to the extent of their ability while they all receive just what they need. The kibbutz is a truly unique, special world. Although they’ve changed throughout the years, kibbutzim have remarkably retained their strong vibe of unity throughout the community. They started out as hard-working farms and ended up as industrial and agricultural engines which play a great role in Israeli development.
If you had the choice, would you live on a kibbutz?
As a private tour guide I tour with families. Many of the children are not very interested stories I tell them. Unlink most of kids one 11 years old girl was very impressed with my stories and mostly of the kibbutz life. She gave a speech about it in school and sent me the draft.
Kibbutz community pioneers