Blog  Chalutzim, Kibbutzim, and Early Zionism

Chalutzim, Kibbutzim, and Early Zionism

IMG_6711Tamar J., a Spring 2016 participant, is a junior from Bethesda, MD. She is a member of Beth El Synagogue.

We woke up at 6:15 and were greeted with a two hour bus ride up to Kfar Tavor in the North. When we arrived, our first stop was the Aliyah Museum. We explored what life was like in a Moshava, which is a Zionist agricultural settlement. The Chalutzim, or pioneers in an organization called BILU, that came to Israel, created Moshavot with hopes and dreams that Israel would become an Am (people), not just a group of individuals. This was during the 1st Aliyah between 1881 and 1903, however, there were still difficulties during this time period. These Chalutzim, labor Zionists, faced issues like going into debt to their benefactors (like Baron Edmund de Rothschild), drought, and malaria. We also saw this in an interesting, but poorly dubbed movie in a 360 degree theater.

Chalutzim1Our next stop was a quick drive to a beautiful overlook onto the Kinneret. David showed us a picture of the very same place looking incredibly different from 1908. We also read writings from the “American Shalom Aleichem” (AKA Mark Twain, who visited the same site in 1867) explaining the previous ugliness of the gorgeous place we laid eyes upon. We took a quick stop for lunch on a Kibbutz with a date store. So many tamars!


Chalutzim3The third stop, the Kinneret Cemetery, was a modern cemetery just a few hundred meters from the shore of the Kinneret’s blue waters. One person that we looked at that was especially touching to me was Rachel, a famous Hebrew poetess. Her gravestone was extremely beautiful and next to it was a box labeled “Shirat Rachel.” I found it amazing that people could read her poems just next to her gravestone.

Our last stop of the day was a mock Kibbutz built to look like the first proto-Kibbutz. The Kibbutz seemed to mimic the explanations we have received about the first Kibbutzim. Kibbutzim stemmed from the second Aliyah from 1904-1914. They were based off of socialism, but not specifically the Russian type of socialism. The spiritual father of Labor Zionism, A.D. Gordon, believed in the religion of labor. He said physical labor would lead to the redemption of the land. The Kibbutzim that stemmed from the Labor Zionist movement were centered around sharing absolutely everything, down to the underwear. The Chader Ochel was the central place where meetings were held, but there were still a lot of difficulties with money, productivity, education, work roles, gender, property and security.

This time period brought an extreme amount of Zionists into Israel to start building the country’s population. I believe these people were strong to pick up their lives and move to a foreign land as well as determined to fulfill “Shivat Tzion.”