What’s up? I want to round out this Israel series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) by telling you guys about the kibbutz at Mash’abei Sade. This one won’t be too long, but I wanted to talk a bit about the history of the kibbutz movement and some of the amazing people I met there.
SN: Kibbutzim are communal settlements throughout Israel. Think along the lines of a factory town. Kibbutznik are the members of the settlement.
My friend’s sister has lived at this kibbutz for more than 30 years. This is the 4th or 5th Kibbutz she has lived in since she was a teenager. She’s a passionate vegetarian and likes The Voice and Big Brother!
She left home as a teen and joined a Kibbutz. She went to the army and went home for a short time before deciding to go back to another Kibbutz. She liked that Kibbutz but they sent her on a trip to a psychology convention and after several days at this convention she returned to the Kibbutz and decided she needed to leave. She had another friend at this current Kibbutz who told her to come and she was able to join. She’s worked with children, worked in the kitchen, worked as a librarian, and currently works distributing newspapers and mail! She is also an artist and has been painting since the late 90s! I really look up to her and she was very inspiring to me. Here are some of her gorgeous paintings:
We were her guests so we got to stay in the KibbutZimer units for Ulpan (Hebrew language school) students. The housing was really nice. It would be easy to live there. No gas, but you have a mini fridge+freezer, kitchen sink, electric kettle, microwave, television w/cable, wifi, table and chairs, a shower, toilet, and bathroom sink. You also get a closet, laundry drying wrack, and a table and chairs outside. I’d definitely recommend this Ulpan if you’re interested in learning Hebrew. If you are just traveling in the region you can also stay in their hotel. You can go to the cafeteria for lunch 6 days a week and dinner 1 day a week and it’s REALLY reasonably priced. Meat, sides, salad bar all for less than 20 NIS (~$6)!
I met three interesting people there. The first was the director of IT named Dan. He and his wife (who have been together since they were 16) came to the kibbutz in the 80s. He is a biologist by trade and worked in a laboratory and studied for a Ph.D. too. He was injured in the Lebanon War in 1982 and when he recovered he decided to come to the kibbutz with his wife and a group of friends. He travels all over the world, is Vegan (much more common in Israel than one would imagine) and is an amateur philosopher.
I met another lady named Hannah who was a Holocaust survivor. I don’t know much about her but she’s been at the kibbutz for decades, is in her late 80s or early 90s, and still wakes up at 5AM everyday to open the kibbutz factory!
I met one of the neighbors of my friend’s sister who grew up at this kibbutz. She was part of a common kibbutz practice: separating children from their parents at birth. Her daughter currently lives in the U.S. She left the kibbutz and married but recently returned after her father passed away. Her mom was French-Moroccan and her dad was French-Polish and they came to Israel and were part of the initial group of founders of this kibbutz! She baked this amazing lemon cake and gave me the recipe. She currently works in the kibbutz laundry facility and is also a painter!
I met many other interesting people and it was fascinating to see how each person contributes to the unique character of the community and how each person works for the benefit of their neighbors. I even went to my first Jewish funeral which was surreal. The lady moved from Poland to Mexico in the 1930s and after marrying and having children she immigrated to Israel in the 1960. What a full and amazing life!
The natural environment in this area is absolutely AMAZING. And if you are interested in history look no further. The nearest town is Beersheba and ABRAHAM, ISAAC, AND JACOB WERE THERE IN THE BOOK OF GENESIS!
I mentioned in my live video that the kibbutz movement was a manifestation of the Russian Aliyah (Aliyahs=waves of immigration to Israel). These Russian immigrants and other immigrants from Europe built agricultural communes. The first kibbutzim came to be in the 1910s and 20s but the kibbutzim in the Negev didn’t emerge until the 1940s. SN: I made some boo boos in the live video so don’t take it too seriously. These collectivist communes have largely switched from agricultural output to industrial production. See, members of the kibbutz are paid every month, provided with a house, hot water, electricity, phone, internet, and every other modern convenience. But they all have to contribute to the kibbutz for years in order to get these privileges. The peak of the kibbutz movement came in the late 80s but has declined steadily since.
As I said, the kibbutz reminds me a lot of U.S. Army bases. There was a library, several schools, a clubhouse, an art gallery, a laundry facility, a cafeteria, a clothing store, a grocery, and a pub!
One thing that intrigued me was that this Kibbutz was largely secular. They did offer Friday dinner and celebrate Hannukah at an optional children’s party, but the only religious activity came from guests staying at the hotel who prayed before Shabbat began. After staying in a 4-Star hotel in the capitol that wouldn’t allow people to play piano in the lobby on Shabbat, had a candle station (the Hilton even had a synagogue), it was confusing that a historical community in the heart of the country had no religious life.
Kibbutz life is really interesting and I think it is a great way to create new communities. I have my economic reservations, but I think it provides a great quality of life for people from so many different backgrounds! The kibbutzim served a very vital purpose in the founding of Israel and have contributed so much to the economic, political, historical, and social fabric of the society.
Everyone was extremely nice to me and I am forever thankful that I got to have this experience. I’ll definitely go back one day! Hopefully in the summertime! 🙂
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I hope you’ll stick around for my next travel series…I’ll let you know where I’m going when I find out! 🙂