Kibbutz membership at all-time high

Population stands at around 140,000, a 21 percent increase from 2004

Children from Kibbutz Gilad (photo credit: Herzl Shapira/Flash90)
Children from Kibbutz Gilad (photo credit: Herzl Shapira/Flash90)

The kibbutz movement is making a comeback and membership stands at 140,000, an all-time high, Maariv reported on Tuesday. The cooperative, communal settlements have seen a growth spurt in the last eight years, increasing their population by 21 percent, mostly from young families and returning members.

“More people are joining kibbutzim than leaving, a reality that counters years of crisis,” said Ze’ev Shore, secretary general of the kibbutz movement. “The many that have joined want to be certain about a future ensuring high quality of life in a rural setting, living fairly and equitably with systems in place for mutual support and social security.”

The dramatic increase is a result of community expansion and outreach, with 60% of kibbutzim now accepting applications for new members. The drive to diversify the kibbutz economy has also been a factor, as potential members find more job options and economic security than in the past.

The statistics released by the kibbutz movement also indicate that 20% of kibbutz members are now under the age of 18 or are soldiers serving their mandatory three year term, indicating good prospects for continued growth.

The first kibbutz was founded in 1910 near the Sea of Galilee and started a wave of utopian, agricultural communities closely associated with the Zionist pioneers. The largely secular left-leaning kibbutz ideology is an integral part of the Israeli psyche, yet by the 1980s the movement was in financial decline and general population decreased, which led to widespread privatization. Most of today’s Kibbutzim are no longer fully cooperative and new members are not expected to work in jointly owned agriculture or industry enterprises.



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