This week my friend Nick came over to say his penultimate goodbye before I depart for the homeland. During his visit he inquired about my future living conditions, as any mildly concerned and invested friend would. I explained to him that I would be living on a kibbutz in the south.
“A what?” Nick responded, followed by the ambitious declaration, “wait! I know how to spell that.”
Nick did not, in fact, know how to spell kibbutz, mistaking its B’s for P’s. He also did not know what a kibbutz was, leading him to Google and Wikipedia.
“This sounds like an Amish cult,” he noted. “Or a dorm.”
“They’re privatized now,” I explained, promising him that I would write him a post with a more involved explanation.
So here is your kibbutz post, Nick:
The first kibbutz was established in 1909 (Degania, my love <3). It was a collective community based in agriculture. After the failed first Aliyah (when the Jews started returning to Israel en mass), the Jewish pioneers reassessed their strategy. Instead of solely relying on financial aid from European benefactors to supplement their venture, pioneers of the second Aliyah took a different approach. They melded socialism with Zionism and endeavored to live self-sufficiently. Here’s where the kibbutz comes in:
These second Aliyah visionaries wanted to do things right (at least as right as they could being socialist Zionists). What ensued were kibbutzim (plural of kibbutz), touting the virtues of communal living and working the land as a vehicle towards Jewish self-determination. So they farmed and ate in dining halls and developed the modern State of Israel not just through their ideology, but also through their labor.
When I move to my kibbutz, I won’t be farming, unless my Garin decides to take up gardening as a pastime. I’ll be living in an apartment with the other members of my Garin, studying Hebrew and cultivating interpersonal connections. When I enlist, I’ll come back to the kibbutz on weekends.
Today, kibbutzim are about community. Hope that clears things up for you, Nick.