A few month ago I wrote a post about what a Kibbutz is. You can read the whole post here, but to sum it up in a few words, a Kibbutz is an agricultural commune.
The Israeli Kibbutzim (plural for Kibbutz) where founded by new immigrants after the first and second world wars. Those immigrants were looking to create a self-sufficient community where all its members are equal.
I wanted to share with you pictures of the kibbutz I grow up in.
Kibbutz Ein Hmifratz was established in 1938 by a group of Polish immigrants. It is located on the cost of the Mediterranean sea in northern Israel, close to the city of Akko.
This basketball court in the photo above is the center of the Kibbutz. To the left of it is a large play ground….
And behind it is a big building that houses the communal grocery store, kitchen and dining hall. As kids, we met here for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but today the dining room serves only lunch.
This is the back of the dining room. This large grassy area is where many of the kibbutz’s holidays and celebrations take place.
This is another common area in the center of the Kibbutz. There is also a community club, the school, a community pool, nursing home, doctor’s clinic, laundry room and the factory which I don’t have photos of.
Most of those are very very small studio apartments, one bedroom or two bedroom apartments.
Years ago, those used to be the main living arrangements. The children slept together in a “children’s house” and not with their parents at home, there was (and still is) a big communal laundry room (so they didn’t need room for washer and dryer), and there was the communal dining room (no one cooked or ate at home), therefor not much space was needed at each member’s house.
Today most families have bigger and newer homes. Those apartments are given to the teenagers. In most Kibbutzim you get your own place at 16. I guess you can imagine how we used to spend our time… 😉
The main form of transportation inside the Kibbutz is bicycle.
If you look good you’ll notice that all the roads are very narrow. It is only lately that it became allowed for each family to own their own vehicle. Until just a few years ago the Kibbutz owned a number of vehicles and if you wanted to drive somewhere you had to book a car for a window of time.
There are still shared vehicles in the Kibbutz today (not as many though…) to allow those who can’t afford a car the use of one. Whoever owns his/her own vehicle has to park it outside of the living area.
One of the businesses of the Kibbutz is dairy farming. I was part of this dairy operation back in 2003 after my release from the Navy. We had about 400 cows then.
How many memories I have here… I used to work the night shift because no one but me could get along with the other grumpy member who worked the night shift. Somehow, he liked me. We milked 400 cows every night. Our shift started at 2 am and ended at 9 am. We walked from one shed to another gathering cows in the rain or in a clear beautiful night.
We were covered with cow’s poop in the morning. I am not a night person at all, I hated working the night shift, but I couldn’t turn my back on my grumpy old partner who worked this shift for year. I fell in love with cows and still love them very much. It was a tiring, dirty, and stinky job, but I loved it.
I would get home at 9:15am and collapse on the bed. My husband (then boyfriend) had to literally kick me out of bed. I was stinky as a skunk that rolled in cow’s poop, but who cared about a damn shower. I wanted to sleep!
I don’t know how the man still married me after that…
Next to the cow’s sheds are the commercial poultry houses. I worked there too, but lasted only 3 days. The roosters did not like me at all! They attacked me every time I stepped inside to gather eggs. After 3 days I decided we should part as friends.
On the other side of the poultry houses is the barn where I spent every moment I could. I started riding horses when I was 9 years old and very quickly became a horse addict. If you have horses or used to ride them, you know what I mean.
The barn is actually one of the commercial chicken houses. We built everything from tack rooms to stalls to a kitchen and so on by ourselves with materials we gathered around the Kibbutz. A bunch of kids playing with concrete. It was great.
The barn is right on the edge of the fields. We could jump on a horse and go ride in between fields for hours. We were a group of maybe 15 young teenagers who ran the whole operation with the help of a couple adults. We were like a big family and this was our home.
The barn never turned any profit for the Kibbutz, therefore the Kibbutz didn’t want to invest too much money in it. We had to learn how to build things from nothing and how to be very frugal. Those were great lessons for life.
Commercial fish farming is also a big business for the Kibbutz. I never had too much to do with those fish pools.
This beautiful river runs along one side of the the Kibbutz and right behind the barn. Unfortunately it is contaminated with chemical waste from the factories around so it was a source of mosquitoes rather than enjoyment.
And then there are the crop fields. Miles and miles of fields. Agriculture is the main source of income for the Kibbutz and they grow just about everything. From watermelons to corn and wheat.
I wasn’t born to this environment. I was born in the city and after my first year in public school I announced that if I ever have to go back I’ll run away or kill myself.
My parents didn’t have a choice but to find a privet school for me. It just happened that the year I started second grade was the first year the Kibbutz opened its school doors to outside kids.
It was extremely expansive. About one third of my parents income went to pay for my and my brother’s education, and I am thankful to them for that.
I found a great childhood in the Kibbutz. I loved the open spaces and the freedom to run around. I made friends for life and gained skills that will stay with me forever. For us, school was about being a part of an agricultural community as much as it was about studying Hebrew or Math.
I imagine it is a complected concept to understand for someone who never visited a Kibbutz. It’s maybe a bit like those American hippie communities of the 70’s just organized and structured differently.
I would love to hear your thoughts, or if you have any questions please ask.