The first time I ever heard the term kibbutz was when I asked to hear about the love story of two of my best friends, who are a couple. They had both grown up on kibbutzim (pl.) and had been shuffling between each other’s kibbutzim ever since.
Although the concept fascinated and interested me endlessly, initially, it was quite shocking to hear that such a peaceful way of communal living existed in a country that is so often essentialised as being nothing but disruptive.
A kibbutz was conceived as a utopian way of living that is based on socialist and zionist
ideals. It aimed to bring together people and families to live together, work together and stay together. From child-rearing to cooking and hard labour, everything is distributed equally.
Although the initial wave of kibbutzim generated income from agricultural work, other industries such as hospitality and technology are increasingly being adopted by kibbutzim. The residents receive limited allowances, so as to maintain socialist ideologies.
Even though kibbutzim aren’t as popular as they were in the mid to late nineties, when my friends were growing up, they still exist in considerable numbers and are an important part of the Israeli community. This to me is both unfathomable and extremely intriguing. I have never experienced nor witnessed such a community and, embarrassingly, find it hard to reconcile the Israel I see on the news with this concept.
While showing a more human side to the country, it reminds us of the anti-semitic atmosphere of the world that led to the conception of this idea in the first place.
My friends encourage me to go volunteer at a kibbutz,to engage in their lifestyle and truly understand how things work. This would be a good opportunity to observe respectfully how the community works, and help me appreciate this unique aspect of their culture sans judgement.
I already know I have two guides who are waiting to welcome me into their kibbutz with open arms.