Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Kibbutz as new exurb?

From Haaretz : By Avirama Golan

The Kibbutz Movement's demographic growth department has its hands full sorting and accepting new applicants for membership.

Most of the new members are children of kibbutzim who left, studied, worked and lived for years in the city and now want to return. Suddenly, they have realized that the promise of the city as a place where all the opportunities are open to them is deceptive. The opportunities are available only to a thin stratum of successful types, in golden cages of addiction to money and to work.

What they had taken for granted at the kibbutz - an excellent education in small classes, life in the bosom of nature and in an atmosphere of security and warmth - costs vast sums in the city. Housing prices are astronomical. All of their adult lives they have had to work hard to pay for a quality of life that is not better than that enjoyed by kibbutz veterans today. Exhausted by the savage competition that is devoid of social and existential security, they now recall the relaxed pace of life in their childhood, and the memory becomes more acute as they grow older. As long as they were very young and did not have children, they thought they had the world in their hands. Now that they can barely manage to spend any time with their children, they are beginning to long for the communal life that had previously looked strangling and limiting to them...

The new kibbutz is not an ideal place, but it has bid farewell to the rigid fairy tale of equality that created many distortions and now offers an interesting model for communal life, in which one can find both security and a social challenge. The kibbutzim that are taking in new members are explicitly declaring full privatization and differential pay alongside "mutual responsibility in education, health and welfare." All of them, of course, are interested in young people with small children. Kibbutzim that are enjoying renewed economic prosperity are attracting more new members than they are able to absorb.

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