Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kibbutz Hatzor as a civics lesson

This past weekend, we were fortunate to be able to spend some time at Kibbutz Hatzor.  Jay invited us to meet his family and escape the urban Jerusalem life we had created.  We have not had a car in Jerusalem since we arrived.  There are many reasons for this, but the two biggest are the price of gas and the traffic.  Israelis complain about the traffic in Tel Aviv, but those who live in Jerusalem know their traffic is just as bad (not even going to include the parenthetical here!)  As a social studies teacher, I was fascinated with the communal side of the kibbutz.  Our first two meals were in the dining hall.  Lots of communal interactions to observe.  Jay and his family talked to other families.  His youngest daughter Hila (Hee-lah) was a clear favorite among all the younger children who came up for hugs, playtime, or just to say hi.  Tzippi, Jay's wife made sure we knew what we were eating and that our portions were big enough.  Friday night, Eitan, the oldest son was working in the dining hall. We observed multiple generations...a real community where everybody knew everybody else.  Aside from the white table cloths, there was no other sign this was Shabbat.  No communal candle-lighting, blessings, etc.  If this were done, it was all done privately prior to dinner.  After the meal, some of the adults went to a presentation on recycling, waste, etc.  The kids either went to the youth club (older kids, mostly) or hung out and eventually, watched TV (younger kids, mostly)  The kibbutz folk at the lecture discussed everything from rising use of plastic stuff to water use.  Everybody was astonished as they watched the slide presentation.  If you didn't just click on the link, please go back and watch it.....it is worth a couple minutes of your time.  Imagine our surprise the next day when water was served to the group involved in Tu' Bishvat planting.....in plastic cups!


Back to civics....kibbutz housing is voted on by the members.  There is a limit to the number of houses/duplexes which can be funded.  And, of course, those living in "older" homes have to be able to "move up" to newer ones in an agreed upon period.  Because of this, one's immediate neighbors tend to be of the same age since they have also been on the kibbutz for the same length of time.  One can also see the private side of kibbutz life at Hatzor.  The homes aren't all equal.  Some duplexes have been built out.  Families drive kibbutz vehicles, but can also own private cars.  Even labor is now contracted out.  There are kibbutz workers who don't live on the kibbutz.  The kibbutz store carries multiple brands (used to only be one brand of soap in Israel.)  Hatzor even has it's own world-class sculptor, Zeev Krisher.  There was also a communal soccer game (ages 16-32!) where the goal was just to build community.  I spent much time thinking about the Catlin Gabel After-Rummage discussion.  Life at Kibbutz Hatzor was a blend of family, individual, and communal activities.  How can Catlin make the transition from Rummage to something else?  We live apart from each other, tend to drift away from the school if our kids have graduated/left, and are busy with our own lives.  What is the incentive to tackle another project.  Rummage happened because we needed a way to reuse items we no longer needed and found a way to include the larger Portland community.  Kibbutz Hatzor works because its members live, work, play, laugh, and eat together.  It is a living example of civics which continues to work because according to Tzippi, "Young people return as soon as they have children because their grandparents live here."

23 comments:

  1. What a great experience, Paul! We MUST show the slideshow to our students! Hope all is well-
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  2. Thats an amazing experience! I would have loved to see that! To be able to learn something about how other people's lifestyle is really intersting!
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  3. I'm so jealous! I'd really love to be able to experience that someday! Such a simple life with no signs of too much stress!
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  6. Great experience! I love watching soccer game. Having new and simple adventures made the moments unforgettable and cherished.

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  18. I liked this piece and would like to try that. I lived with a Jewish family for several years and it was quite an experience. I even lived in a communal christian ranch in Alabama for a year ( my father ran the ranch, it was primarily for inner city kids to live in the country. Thanks for the story
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  19. I have been near Kibbutz Hatzor, and I must say that region have many tiny villages. People are extremely friendly. I am glad that you have posted an article about this unique culture. Did you know that, they also drink a special water called Kangen Water?

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  20. Their community seems to be very tight knit. I am assuming that such a society has an incredibly low crime rate and happiness prevails. Older people are not sent to homes for the aged and the respect young ones have for their elders must be incomparable. Thank you for sharing the story.

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  21. Those pictures look really nice. In our today's western society this 'tribe' model has become quite rare. I wonder how it was like to grow up in a Kibutz. Leicht abnehmen

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