Living on a kibbutz in Israel – the in’s and out’s.
Hebrew: מגורים בקיבוץ
What is a kibbutz?
Kibbutz living appeal to you?
A kibbutz is generally an agricultural settlement. It is a collective and cooperative community of people who work together as a group and share the rewards equally.
The name Kibbutz – Hebrew: קיבוץ – come from the Hebrew root word – קבץ Kavetz – which means to group, gather or cluster. The word Kibbutz is in the singular form and the plural form of the word is Kibbutzim – more than one kibbutz. A person who lives on a kibbutz is called a “kibbutznik” or in the female form “kibbutznikit” or the plural form “kibbutznikim”.
The kibbutz movement
The first kibbutz in Israel, Kibbutz Degania, was founded way back in 1909.
Joseph Baratz was one of the founders of the kibbutz movement and you can read more about him in Doreen Guinsburg’s personal Aliyah story.
There was a flood of immigrants, many World War II and Holocaust survivors, to Israel at the time of independence in 1948. With relatively few possessions they where willing to work hard and do whatever it took to improve their living conditions. They grouped together in small communities, shared the workload and all the responsibilities. Today, there are a few hundred kibbutzim in Israel.
The Kibbutz ideology
The statement of the Kibbutz Movement central body:
“The kibbutz is an original and unique Israeli creation – a multi-generation, rural settlement, characterized by its collective and cooperative community lifestyle, democratic management, responsibility for the welfare of each adult member and child, and shared ownership of its means of production and consumption.”
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Types of Kibbutzim
In addition to agriculture, kibbutzim generate revenue through various types of industry, factories, hi-tech and other ventures. Some kibbutzim are religiously orientated and others are secular. Some have strong political affiliations. Some have large numbers of English speaking, immigrant members.
Today, some of the kibbutzim have restructured. Whereas before members would all receive equal remuneration, now there are different financial structures based on seniority and one’s personal contribution to the kibbutz. With the new restructuring, these kibbutzim may require you to pay for meals, electricity, laundry etc. This new system is called “hafrata’ – Hebrew for privatization.
Kibbutz daycare and schooling
Some kibbutzim have their own school on the premises but some join with other kibbutzim in the area and run a communal school. Whereas members are entitled to daycare and schooling for their children, it is also possible for non-members to attend kibbutz schools and daycare by paying a regular school fee. This is a popular trend.
Volunteering to work on a Kibbutz
Volunteer programs are available on some of the kibbutzim – a few months of work in exchange for meals and lodgings. This is a great way for young people to experience kibbutz life and the local lifestyle.
email: kpc @ kibbutzvolunteers dot org dot il
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Attending a Kibbutz ulpan Hebrew learning program
It is also possible to attend a kibbutz ulpan on one of eight kibbutzim in Israel. A 5 month Kibbutz Ulpan Program offers a combination of intensive Hebrew study and volunteer work in different areas on a kibbutz. So if you are between 18 and 30 years old this could be a great option for you.
Becoming a member of a Kibbutz
Many kibbutzim today, allow members of the public to live on the kibbutz without becoming members, by paying a monthly rental.
How do I join?
We refer you to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, where you will find a detailed description of the various kibbutzim, a countrywide list of kibbutzim, their social structure and policies, volunteer programs as well as detailed information regarding learning Hebrew and kibbutz ulpan.
Once you have applied to become a member of a kibbutz, and after having lived there for a while, a vote will take place and your membership will be decided.
Some kibbutzim have guest accommodation; guest houses and hotels. Israelis enjoy taking a short break and book into a kibbutz for a weekend or a few days during the holidays. Guest accommodation can be basic self-catering or it can be a luxurious five-star hotel. If you would like to tour Israel and enjoy kibbutz hospitality, just Google “kibbutz hotels” for more information.