gardens on kibbutz

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I’ve written in the past about my experiences and what I learned on kibbutz; the most successful attempt I know of, to create a truly democratic and egalitarian society. I was a relatively young man at the time… this was more than forty years ago… and influenced by the many ideas that were going around in the 60s. I wanted to know if it was possible for people to live happily in a commune, where the wealth was shared, and where each person received what he needed to live a wholesome life, and contributed to the collective according to his abilities. The idea was simple. It appealed to my ideals. And there were many such villages scattered around Israel where that was actually happening.

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We had heard of the abuses of power in the communist states of eastern Europe, and in Asia. The cold war was being fought along ideological lines. In the west, communism was considered synonymous with tyranny. Was it possible that such a system could work in a free society? I felt I had to try it out. I had a family at the time; a wife and small children. I came from a rather conventional background, with the talents and the education of a typical 20th century intellectual. And so I felt that I could easily test the viability of the system on myself. Most important, I had a desire to see a better world; a world in which society was able to compensate for some of the unfair distribution of talent and physical strengths by nature.

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When I went up north to visit my friend, last week, I visited that same kibbutz where I had spent a couple of years, long ago. It was a visit that brought back memories that had almost faded away… memories of people and of situations… What had once seemed as critical and important as life itself, was barely relevant today. Many of the people I had loved and befriended were no longer part of the society now. Some had died, and some had moved away. The kibbutz itself was no longer the same society in which I had chosen to live. The people there, had chosen democratically to change the rules. There had been a process of privatization, in which individual members of the commune had been given more freedom of choice, and the right to work at whatever they wanted to do, and to own personal belongings without obligation to the collective.

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The place is still called a kibbutz, but it operates along different lines altogether. The one social characteristic that remains the same after all the time that has gone by, is that the society there is governed by a direct democracy, in contrast to the representative democracy that we enjoy today in most democratic societies. That means, that instead of being governed by representatives who are elected by popular vote, all major issues are decided by a direct vote of the entire population, or at least those who care enough to express their opinion.

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I remember that when I first arrived there, I felt as if I had landed in paradise. It was almost too good to be true. And strangely enough, after those many years… when I visited the place again, it still seemed like the garden of Eden to me. The ideas might have changed. There was a different generation of people living there. People owned their own homes or rented. The houses were more individual, many of them different from their neighbors. In many ways, it was a village just like any other in my country. But when I looked at the gardens, I felt the difference.

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The gardens are an example of integration. For the most part, the grass is not mowed like it is in most suburban neighborhoods. Wild flowers and cultured varieties grow side by side among the grasses, dotting the lawns with color. One doesn’t feel that that human order has been imposed upon nature. On the contrary, wherever you go, there are pleasant surprises. When I lived there, there was a central dining room where everyone ate. There were children’s homes where all the children lived. The children would visit their parents for afternoon tea, and then return to their children’s houses. And the parents would visit with their children in the evening. Now people make their own dinners in their own homes, and children live with their parents.

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In the old kibbutz, there were committees that decided where people would work, and all the people took part in producing those yields which the society had decided were most advantageous for the community. Now people get into their private cars and drive off to work in the morning. And these residents come home whenever their work is done. One man or woman may earn twice as much, or even four times as much as his or her neighbor. And yet, there still is a collective responsibility for the poor, the weak, and those who’re ill. For the most part, the kibbutz has turned from a communistic society to a socialistic one. People still seem happy, but they are far less involved in the community.

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51 responses to “gardens on kibbutz

  1. I think the loss of community is the hardest part to replicate in the free market. The kibbutz image has always been romanticized in the west; having been now to Russia and seeing the remnants of what the state can do for people changes one’s perspective.

    • Yes. the state can do great things for people… but unfortunately, can also do things to people. Even though the kibbutz was just about perfect from my point of view… and I lived there for a while, many of the young people who were born and raised there wanted more individual freedom, and chose to leave the framework. Thanks for your comment, Lisa.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful post Shimon. I spent many happy summers during my university years volunteering on a kibbutz and I absolutely loved it. Some of my best memories were made on my kibbutz.

    • I can say the same, Edith. Some of my best memories come from the experience. Since then, though, kibbutz has changed quite a bit. And it’s not nearly as important an influence as it once was. But it’s still a very special place. Glad to know you shared the experience.

  3. Such inspiring photos… 🙂

    Kibbutz as a platform for youth people where they can make contacts and gain experience I think that is mighty fine – whereas the places in the world where the principle has been exploited by other motives – not giving a positive impression – I think of youth work camp in the old Soviet Union.

    The small danish island where I was born where there is a lot of vegetable and fruit growing – there is every year a lot of young foreigners who come and work in periods – the model for these youth camps is precisely the israeli model – besides the work so there is plenty of mood and atmosphere there – in the evening, there are plenty of song and music – from many places around Europe… 🙂 🙂

    • I am sure that there was much to learn from kibbutz when organizing youth camps. But what was most amazing about the place, was that there were people of all ages, from babies to oldsters… all of them sharing in the wealth, and cooperating in making a living (the grown ups). We lived there 12 months a year, and that was our life. And so it was a much more total experience than a youth camp. In other countries, I’m sure that the motivation was positive; that they wanted to build a good society that was good for everyone. But in most cases, people were bullied in the name of ideology, and they weren’t really free. Thanks for your comment, ledrakenoir

  4. Gardens always hold the difference. I found this a fascinating read, dear Shimon…all of it very foreign to me. I don’t know if you know of a book that is written where the setting is a Kibbutz…if you know of one, please get back to me. I’m very curious.

    • I wish I could be of help, Kathleen. I’m sure there are some books out there. But because my reading is mostly in Hebrew, I wouldn’t know what is available in English. A lot of foreigners heard about the kibbutz in the 60s and the 70s, and many used to come to volunteer. It became something of a subculture here in Israel.

  5. Oh, Shimon, thank you for this lovely reflection on the ways we organize ourselves in communities and dance between our needs for society/connection with others and privacy/connection with self. It’s an ongoing flow, isn’t it? I suppose the “balance point” is a bit different for each of us and also changes throughout our life, but I value the examination your post offers and I welcome the glorious photos of flowers and green gardens! The snow and ice are still receding here and, so far, the green is waiting to be revealed. 🙂 Happy spring!

    • Before I started living on a kibbutz, I didn’t know whether communism was a myth, or could be made into a reality. I heard about what happened in Russia and eastern Europe, which was terrible, and heard that in my own country it had succeeded. So I was anxious to learn more about it. What you say is very true Kitty. There is a very delicate balance between personal needs and caring for others. What I found, was that it could only work for people who made a personal commitment. But often, for others… husbands and wives, or children who were born on the kibbutz and hadn’t made the choice themselves, the kibbutz was hard to take. Though I completely fell in love with it, I realized at some point, that it could never work for an entire society. Glad to hear that you are seeing the signs of winter retreating. Wishing you a very joyous spring, and I know we’ll see beautiful pictures from you with the coming of the spring season.

  6. This is a fascinating account, Shimon, showing how the kibbutz has evolved to accommodate more of the private and personal along with community responsibility. In the rich world where private consumption predominates it is often hard to nurture a sense of community. At best it tends to fragment laterally into peer groups and age sets – teens, mothers and babies, families with school-age children, pensioners etc rather than also interconnecting vertically through all the age groups. Even in a town as small as mine – less than 3,000 people, it is hard to generate a sense of cohesion, and there are parts of the town (the most expensive) where people do not even know their neighbours by sight. Mutual social responsibility is hard work for us selfish souls even when we like the idea of it! Your photos, as ever, are lovely.

    • Thank you very much, Tish. That was what I loved most about the kibbutz; the community spirit, and the fact that responsibility for all social issues was distributed among the population. Of course, some people complained that there were too many committees, and not enough personal time. It is impossible to please everyone to the same degree. But problems were worked out in a very fair and considerate manner. I think that many small communities could learn from our experiences here, because the society was basically the same sort as the western society. The people were modern, and they were living as families. But I suppose there has to be a very strong motivation on the part of all members in order to do it. Thanks for your comment.

  7. The gardens are certainly beautiful and tell of a community that cares about the beauties of nature.

    • Yes Bev, my impression was that people became more sensitive to their own needs as well as the needs of others because of the cooperation on the most basic levels. And the gardens are just part of the story… probably the least noticed part.

  8. What an interesting post, and the photos are the perfect punctuation. Such lovely gardens, and an abundance of unfettered nature, allowed to grow wild, even while contained within the confines of the kibbutz. Having recently posted something about “my dream garden”, this allowed me to consider slowly integrating some version of a more natural element to my own square patch of land. I’ve never been one to have much of an appreciation for properly mowed patches of grass, and much prefer a landscape dotted by bits of wild and color. Your photos were such a breath of fresh air. Really lovely.

    As to the democratic changes in the community, and how what was once more collective has now become more individualistic, and how that has led to more separation (monetarily, socially) … well, it does seem that all things end up evolving to something else. I briefly spent some time in a commune in my teen years, and my recollections of the personal dynamics is that even in this “share and share alike” community, there was much bickering and struggling for equality. In other words, I happened to cross paths with a not-so-utopian version of an intended utopian society. Still, it managed to make an impact on me, in that I did appreciate the “take care of one another” aspect, and probably helped build the foundation for that mindset, which has stayed with me over the years. But it also shone too bright a light on the flawed disposition of humans, even when intentions are pointed in a specific direction. Invariably, at least in that case, there always existed a underlying “what about ME” mentality, which was the eventual undoing of the ideal. I’m hopeful that the world is beginning to awaken to the truth that WE are a collective family, and that borders and walls create separation, but people, well … people can create unity.

    Which, oddly enough, brings to mind Philippians 2:3-4 (NKJV) – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” I’m sure there is a Jewish equivalent of that sentiment, or a Muslim version, of which I am not familiar.

    a garden of people, spread across the globe.

    • What you say about the ‘flawed disposition of humans’ is really the bottom line of what I learned from my experience, living on a kibbutz. It is quite common for people who believe in a certain ideology (especially young people) to blame the ‘system’. But when we try to build a better system, we soon learn that human beings can’t change their nature easily. An example that I can show you, comes from those days on kibbutz. Smokers were given cigarettes according to how much they smoked. It was free, and all you had to do was notify the proper committee regarding how many cigarettes you usually smoked in a day. And all the same, there were moochers, who regularly ran out of cigarettes, and would ask their friends or the people who worked along side of them, for a cigarette. I saw many such examples, and came to the conclusion that no matter what the system… what was most important was a lot of tolerance and an acceptance of the difference between people. Glad you liked the pictures of the gardens. They are a seldom notices aspect of the beauty of kibbutz.

  9. Dear Shimon,
    Thank you for sharing your story here. It is very interesting to me the way life on a kibbutz has evolved. I think that’s a good thing, so long as it stays democratic and people are free to come and go as they please. My friend Nancy lived on Kibbutz Barkai for years, but what made her leave was the fact that someone else was raising her children–she wanted them with her for more than tea and a goodnight kiss. By evolving to meet the needs of the people, it has survived. I suppose I am a socialist at heart, because I so strongly believe in taking care of our poor, our elderly, our infirm, but I also need the freedom to make certain choices about how I live and work and especially how to raise my kids. I am glad to know that kibbutz life is still going strong. Another wonderful and thoughtful post!

    • I wouldn’t say that kibbutz life is ‘still going strong’. The kibbutz has a lot less influence on Israeli society than it did 50 years ago. This can be seen in all the areas of social and economic activity. And the cause of this diminished importance, in my opinion, was the desire on the part of many individuals within the kibbutz system, to live lives similar to the life style of well to do middle class people on the outside. When we compare our lives to those in another society, we usually compare ourselves to those who are successful in that group. And this can often increase the feeling that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. It happened in the kibbutz too. And many members looked at above average, middle class citizens on the outside, as their example of what the good life was all about. I heard many complaints about the communal raising of children. My impression was that the system worked very well. And one could say that the success of kibbutz children in the general society showed that those raised on kibbutz could outperform the average in the society at large. Kibbutz raised citizens excelled both in the army and in industry, and are found at the head of many services and organizations. This is far out of proportion to their relative size within the general population. However, I can tell you that my own wife and children were dissatisfied with the regimentation of kibbutz life, and didn’t want to live there, after the original romance wore off. Thanks for your comment, Naomi.

  10. What I love about you is your flexibility and open-mindedness, you are always prepared to explore ideas and don’t pre-judge things…..so of course you have lived in a commune.Did your wife and children live there with you?

    I found this post really interesting, I have often thought I would like to live in a commune too, but I suppose it would depend on the people I chose to live with, if we were like minded it would be good I think….it does sound like an idyllic way to live if all are in harmony, and each can still be individual within a communal setting.

    I did enjoy hearing your take on how you experienced it first hand…a garden of Eden does sound wonderful!

    What delightful pics of the gardens, and how good it must have been to re-visit…I hope your friend is ok and that all is well with him.As usual, you give me much to think about.xxx

    • Yes, we lived on kibbutz as a family. My wife didn’t care that much for the life style of communal living, and wanted more privacy and personal freedom than the framework provided. Were it not for that, I think I would have been quite happy to live the rest of my life on kibbutz. But it is also true that most born and raised kibbutz children choose to leave kibbutz after reaching adulthood. It wasn’t always like that. But today’s society is oriented towards a very individualistic life style. It seems to me that in another generation, the kibbutz will no longer be with us… and will be remembered as a very romantic chapter in our history. I’m sorry about that. I wish it would remain a viable alternative to the common ‘western style’ social democracy. Thanks for your good wishes, Dina. xxx

  11. Like PainterLady, this is way over my head. The democracy we have here sure seems abstract and unhealthy. I wonder about the medical care in your kibbutz.

    • We always seem to be most critical about what we know best. I have met many socially concerned Americans who are very critical of their own country. But when compared with other societies that I’ve gotten to know, America seems enlightened and free, though it has some defects, as all humans do. The medical care on kibbutz was designed according to high standards. Not only was the kibbutz member provided with a physician and complete hospital care, but dental care and psychological counseling was also included. The disadvantage was that you couldn’t always choose the doctor of your choice. But everyone had the security of knowing that in a medical emergency, he or she would be taken care of. Thanks for your comment, Bob.

  12. To Dr. Bob and Shimon: Shimon, you wrote: instead of being governed by representatives who are elected by popular vote, all major issues are decided by a direct vote of the entire population, or at least those who care enough to express their opinion. We lack that option in the States, and our so-called representatives have (more and more often over time) aligned themselves with lobbyists, and, by and large, and seem to rarely care about the opinions of even the majority of the population. From your description of changes you observed, the kibbutz has evolved into a positive balance of community and individuality. Loved the photographs of the gardens. The first one with its ground cover and multiple clay pots made me smile broadly. Thank you!

    • Most democratic nations use some variation of a representative government these days. People who have studied the problem seriously say that were the general population asked to decide the many issues which are usually controlled by parliament, they would soon lose interest. And then it would be only a very few idealists that would do all the work. From what I hear, there has been a general decline in the percentage of citizens who actually take the time to vote in many democratic states. So the accepted thought is that representative government is more responsive to the needs of the entire population. Of course, human beings have their faults, and there are cases of corruption and vested interests which can be damaging to the public welfare. We see a general trend towards higher specialization in all fields, and this is true of government as well. Lobbying has its disadvantages. Personally, I would prefer to see a system which did not include that form of influence. But I doubt that a direct democracy could work in a country as large as any one of the states in the US. It seems to me that the greatest hope for an improvement in the democratic process, lies in the use of the internet to allow individuals to challenge the decisions of the democratic representatives. It’s also important to note that democracy doesn’t only mean that majority rules. It guarantees the welfare and the rights of minorities. Thank you very much, Myra, for raising this important issue.

  13. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

    gardens are the passions of the spirit, as music is to the soul
    Wonderful photos Shimon, I enjoyed wandering with you, I lived in a commune for while, but with time and egos, people started wanting to control …making rules, changing them when they realized they weren’t getting their way….
    I have been knee deep in soil , pruning and cleaning gardens this week as Spring arrived with songs bursting within the trees…
    Your post is wonderful,
    brought back memories of my garden of Eden days 🙂
    now I enjoy my 2.5 acres as I ready for Spring plantings….
    Thank you for sharing another part of your world…it is always a pleasure to listen….and feel your thoughts
    Take Care…You Matter…
    )0(
    maryrose

    • Glad you liked the photos, Maryrose, and I’m so happy for you that you have the advantage of 2.5 acres for agriculture. That’s quite a bit of land! And it sounds like you’re truly enjoying it. There have been so many attempts at communal life style over the years, and most of them have failed. It’s really very difficult, because people have different talents, different strengths, and different motivations. We’re not all equal really, but many of us would like to see a society where everyone enjoys equal opportunities. There has to be generosity, tolerance, and patience from all members of a commune in order for it to work. I believe it can only work for small groups of idealists… but still, the possibility continues to attract many young people. It gives us something to aspire to. Thanks very much for your comment.

  14. Good morning Shimon….The earlier kibbutz does sound like heaven on earth to me….and even with the changes, this is the kind of place I enjoy living. I am a socialist at heart, and always will be…..The other thing is that gardens tell us so much about the people who tend them….and here we can see through the more natural integrated gardens, the freer spirits of those who live there. :)x

    • Yes, I too like the idea of a society where the weak and disadvantaged are taken care of, and where there are minimal conditions for all. Unfortunately there have been great failures in the past when trying to build a fair society. But I still have hopes. At the same time, I’m not willing to curtail the freedom of the individual. What I most fear is that in any case, people’s lives will be more and more curtailed by an all invasive social order that is constantly watching out ‘for our own best interest’. Again, I agree with you, Janet, about gardens and the people who tend them. And enjoying a beautiful garden is such a pleasure… and such a source of calm and health! xxx

  15. Fascinating post and comments, Shimon, thank you. It started me thinking again about Christian community, and I realise that we need more than goodwill, we need a commitment to an overall belief or ideology to want to do this sort of thing. Even so, human nature is not perfect and idealists don’t always take this on board.

    • I agree with you, Gill. We tend to blame the system, and this leads to the thought that if the system was better, we could have a better world. But history teaches us that our greatest problem is our own limitations and failures. We do need a common motivation. And just as it takes a lot of work to make a marriage or a partnership work, it takes a lot of consideration, tolerance and good will to enable a cooperative society. But we can find encouragement from history. Looking back, we see that the conditions of human life have steadily improved over the generations. Let’s hope that the conditions will continue to improve.

  16. Very interesting. I would have enjoyed the old kibbutz as a young person, but never had the chance. It must have been an amazing character-building experience. I love the photos.

    • Thank you very much, Fatima. I’m sorry you didn’t have the opportunity to try it. It was a very good experience. But it also taught us how difficult it is to make changes in ourselves, and to make changes in society. Thanks very much for your comment.

  17. I think someday people are going to realize what they threw away/ voted away in re the more egalitarian old kibbutzim. Certainly they were not perfect, but they were good. For example, every time I read a remark about people left bcs they wanted more time with their kids, I look around me in the USA. In every economic category, I see kids being raised at daycare, w/nannies, or latch-key….Neither kids nor parents get to ‘steal’ a minute during the day to go for an impromptu hug. Frankly, I see parents & kids w/a lot less quality time for each other. I see lonely old-people isolated in nursing homes, elder-daycare, etc f/family & friends–the former too busy at work far away, & the latter g-d knows where. On the ‘old’ kibbutz I saw a lot more respect for the individual & family than I see around me here….& I do have a nice life here, but I know where I saw better.

    • I agree with you, Rosie. I felt the education was wonderful on kibbutz, and that the time spent between children and their parents was quality time. But I have to admit that my own children too, were not enthusiastic about the system. And a large portion of kibbutz children have chosen other life styles. Most people don’t like to feel hampered by a strong framework. So far, there doesn’t seem to be much sorrow here over the slow dissolution of kibbutz society. Thanks for the comment.

  18. I had friends who volunteered to work on a Kibbutz in the summer. It was a ‘fashionable’ thing for people to do, looking for a working holiday abroad in the summer months when not at university. For me, I had a job in my home town in the company I was expected to work for when I graduated and I missed out on the opportunity. I wish now I’d gone. An interesting post Shimon, thank you for sharing your visit with us.

    • It was quite different for the volunteers than it was for people who lived year round in the kibbutz. We had advantages and disadvantages, but the biggest difference was the commitment that was demanded by the kibbutz. Our days were very full. There was much activity that was part of community responsibility. And the feedback that we got from public opinion within the society was at times oppressive. Personally, I loved the society. But I saw that many thought it difficult. Thanks for your comment, Chillbrook.

  19. “…human order has been imposed upon nature”– in every aspect of our lives. It looks beautiful, peaceful through your photos! Enjoy the week, Mr. Shimon!

  20. The kibbutz notion has always had a certain romantic appeal to me, both in the sense of the real-world practice of direct democratic process and in the effort to build truly interdependent, sustainable community. Would that we can all get there someday…

    • It was a very productive and positive society, Kathryn. And i’m glad I had the opportunity to experience it. But I can’t ignore the fact that the members themselves reduced their demands and expectations of this noble life style. And many of the children who were raised there, chose to live somewhere else.

  21. I think all people should engage in the experience of gardening. When one puts their hands in the earth to plant and nurture we can learn much about creation and our maker.. Lovely photos!

    • Yes, gardening is one of those things that connect us with nature, and promote a sense of calm in us. But like many other things, it is connected to taste and personal preferences. Each of us has to find what works for him. Thank you so much for your comment, Roberta.

  22. there’s a few bees buzzing around here already that would probably be interested in those flowers.

  23. Shalom Shimon, thanks through a sharing on facebook I got to read your story. Nice to meet you.

    Knowing several people that used to live in kibutzim I heard about the pro’s and con’s from their insights. Never having lived in a kibbutz I know that the part of the ‘children s-house’ would be the bottle neck for me. Even though I heard about the advantages I wouldn’t do this to my children nor to myself. Besides my own gut feeling that this is wrong I also heard it as a mayor problem in the families that lived in kibbutzim and it is often a heavy complain of the children that grew up there and the often confusing relationship I notice between them and their parents, who chose to let them grow up outside their own homes.

    The ideas though of sharing and caring for the weak by the ‘stronger’ touches me, I believe this is a value that is lacking strongly in our society today. Just last week I had a conversation with a friend that worked hard to reach where he got, has a beautiful house, a good job and still works hard to give his family the best he can. His complain about the social system is that also people that don’t want to work get paid from his taxes. I can understand this frustration. He says that it is impossible to define clearly who is weak and who is lazy and people abuse the system. ‘The system’ should take care of that as much as possible, but true, it is not easy. Still it is hard for me, coming from a country with a social democracy, to see that people with either a handicap or just less brilliant students or less successful employees suffer, don’t have access to the care they need and won’t get the same care in their old days as the rich and strong.

    Just thoughts, questions, not having the answers. Thanks for your story. The kibbutz was a beautiful dream, I hope the values of caring for the ones who need our support will go with us anyhow.

    • Hi there Wouke. Glad to meet you, and thanks to whomever mentioned my post on facebook. I can understand the reluctance of anyone who would want to have his children live in under the same roof with him, and to raise them entirely himself. But the truth is, that in raising our children, we see them exposed to many influences, including TV and internet. Even when we raise them ourselves, we don’t always know what they will take from us, and what they will learn from others. I felt that the educational experience on kibbutz was very positive, and that the time spent with my children was really quality time. The issue that you raised, as expressed by your friend, ‘what about the people who take advantage of social supports’ is a valid one. Often, even in the enlightened societies, we have to re-examine our standards so that the burden on the hard working citizen won’t be too great. And I have no doubt that there are some people who take advantage of support. From a philosophical point of view, I would say that it is miserable and self defeating for a human being to be a parasite. And those who live that way suffer badly, even if they don’t realize it. Being that I have enjoyed my life, and fulfilled some of my dreams, I am not bothered so much by the fact that I had to pay taxes, nor even that some of my taxes were misused. I’ve made my mistakes too. I’ve spent money on things that turned out not to be worth it. That’s all part of life. I think that an important part of happiness is not asking or expecting perfection; but always trying to make the best of the possibilities. Thank you very much for your comment.

  24. Hi, Shimon! You’ve posted a few times since I was last here. As you might imagine, I could never have lived in a communal society. I am too much the hermit. And, I am rather attached to my personal property… I agree with Mrs. Z’evi. My child is my child from whom I would never have considered parting. Where is Mrs. Z’evi, by the way. This is a wonderful, thoughtful post. Your responses are always enlightening, considered, and kind. I hope you are well. And Nechama? How old is she now? Have a good day, Shimon!

    • I can understand your attachment to property… and to children too. And the commune did allow for personal space and personal property. It was just organized in a very different way. I’ve written about the technical aspects a long time ago. Maybe one of these days, I’ll write more, comparing the kibbutz to the city life. Nechama is almost nine years old already. Time seems to go so fast when you think about the age of a friend, or a child. But then, when we’re waiting for something… or waiting for some noise to stop… it can move very slowly too. Glad you came by. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

  25. In my teenage years I too was attracted to wanting the kibbutzim experience, even ‘though I’m not Jewish. I valued the then-expressed ideals. I think being community-oriented must be in my blood although it is a difficult thing to achieve in the wider society here in Australia. In 2003 I made my enquiries about various ‘alternative communities’ around Australia as I am on my own, no longer had any parents to be concerned about, and I wanted to become a part of such a community. Most often these ‘alternatives’ were organized along kibbutzim lines. Unfortunately, I was not wanted! Even amongst them, becoming older was an issue of support and most of these communities are quite small, around 50 persons including any children. I was extremely disappointed and disheartened. In hindsight (which always seems to give us twenty-twenty vision), I think I should have gone to Israel. I have no doubt I would have fit in very well, enjoyed it and probably would still be there today, and contributing in my best way of my talents and gifts. *sigh

    • It’s a shame you didn’t try the kibbutz experience. I remember that there were a lot of non Jewish volunteers and enthusiasts who found the kibbutz… mostly from northern Europe. By the start of this century, though, the kibbutz had changed a bit, and they were less interested in new members. And of course, it’s harder to adjust if you don’t know the language. Basically, I think the important choices are always between what is available at any time. No point in regretting a choice made in the past. Thanks for sharing these thoughts, though. Good to hear from you, Janina

      • There were lots of youngsters who came from Australia to the kibbutzes during my teenage years. I would have enjoyed it and learned the language (having already learned a few other ones). Of course, one learns a new language by having to speak it if there are no other options. In more recent years, I have also penned some Hebrew letters as part of a festival day that encompassed Jewish culture; I took to it like a duck to water!

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