The children's house

September 4, 2008 17:35
1 minute read.


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The notorious "children's house" - where kibbutz children lived together under supervision from early infancy to army age, instead of in their parents' homes - also grew out of necessity, not ideology. "The first kibbutzniks lived in tents, and you couldn't put newborns in tents, so they built sturdy rooms for them to stay in, and from there it became tradition," says Gavron. Not at every kibbutz, though. "Deganya didn't have a children's house; we all stayed with our parents," says Nina Ben-Moshe, born at Deganya 70 years ago. "We always had a relatively liberal, individualistic approach. When I went to school with kids from other kibbutzim, they always seemed so rigid, so unified." Among kibbutzim where children lived together, Ein Gedi was probably the first to end the practice - in 1968, says Yonki Ayalon, one of its founders. Within about a decade, the rest of the kibbutzim followed suit. In retrospect, many veterans of the experience say it was terribly damaging to grow up so cut off from one's parents, especially during the night. "It was the kibbutzniks who were brought up in the children's house who insisted on bringing the kids home. They blackmailed their parents, saying either they bring kids home or they leave," says Gavron. Yet while many veterans say they were traumatized by the children's house, many others have mixed feelings about it. When researching his book, Gavron says, "I talked to a lot of people who grew up in the children's house in the 1950s and 1960s, and 99 percent of them said it was terrific, it was great fun, the kids today don't know what they're missing. But when I asked them if they would let their own children grow up that way, every one of them said absolutely not."

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