Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Kibbutz Life: Love It but Leave It?


Dafna Shemer

Israel has 267 kibbutzim, of which 243 belong to the HaTenu’a HaKibbutzit (Kibbutz Movement), 18 belong to the HaKibbutz HaDati (Religious Kibbutz Movement), and the rest to other organizations. As of 2013, a total of 157,525 individuals reside in kibbutzim, constituting nearly 2% of the total population of Israel. In the last year the kibbutz population increased by 3% (Israel’s population increased by nearly 2%). As of the end of 2013, the smallest kibbutz – Kibbutz Niran – has 71 members, and the largest kibbutz – Ma’agan Michael – has 1,768 members.

Metropolitan Jerusalem contains 10 kibbutzim with 6,167 members, constituting 0.5% of the population of the metropolis. The first kibbutz founded in Metropolitan Jerusalem was Kiryat Anavim, in 1920. Half the kibbutzim in the metropolitan area follow the model of kibbutz shitufi (the traditional, cooperative kibbutz system).

According to a survey conducted by Haifa University, 29% of kibbutzim follow the cooperative model – that is, property is owned by the entire community, with equality and participation in production, consumption, and education – and 71% follow the model of kibbutz mitchadesh (a “renewed” kibbutz, which has undergone privatization).

Over the years there has been a decline in the support of kibbutz members for the establishment of a community neighborhood adjacent to the kibbutz (where original founders or city folk and non-members might reside): in 2002, two-thirds of those surveyed supported the establishment of such a neighborhood, whereas in 2014 only 42% supported the concept. In cooperative kibbutzim 28% support the concept while in renewed kibbutzim 48% support it. 

So how many really think about leaving the kibbutz? Only 7% stated that they often consider leaving, a decrease from the 2002 survey, in which 18% stated that they often consider leaving. A total of 15% stated that they sometimes think about leaving, and 78% stated that they rarely think about leaving the kibbutz (compared with 53% in 2002).

Kibbutzniks (kibbutz members) think that their kibbutz is a good place to live: 64% supported this statement, and another 29% think that the kibbutz is a very good place to live, while 7% think that the kibbutz is not a good place to live. In cooperative kibbutzim only 3% think that the kibbutz is not a good place to live. Since 2002 there has been an increase in the number of respondents who think the kibbutz is a good place to live. 

In recent years there has been an increase in the percentage of kibbutzniks who think that “absorption of kibbutz children” (accepting the adult children of kibbutz members as new kibbutz members in the same kibbutz) will harm the continued existence of the kibbutz, from 19% in 2009 to 28% this year. This year, in contrast, 57% said they think that “absorption of kibbutz children” will help the kibbutz. In cooperative kibbutzim 53% think that “absorption of kibbutz children” will harm the kibbutz, whereas in renewed kibbutzim 18% think it will cause harm.


Source of data: Michal Palgi and Eliette Orchan, Public Opinion Poll in Kibbutzim, 2014, Institute for Research of the Kibbutz and the Cooperative Idea, Haifa University






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