Living in a kibbutz

There are approximately 250 kibbutzim and many are busy trying to create "demographic annexes."

kibbutz house 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy )
kibbutz house 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy )
The philosophy behind the kibbutz has gone out of fashion. The kibbutz in its original form was communal living with everything shared. It was socialism and even pure communism impersonificated. The motto that every one should consume according to their needs and produce e.g work according to his abilities was implemented in a kibbutz. In the large context of a state such an economic political philosophy did not work. In the small closed super ideological society of the kibbutz it worked - for a time. Now the kibbutz or communal living as a way of life is something of the past. The vast majority of the kibbutzim are no longer communal. This is the point where the real estate element comes in. The kibbutzim are facing grave demographic problems. The younger generation is leaving. They want to spread their wings in the wider context of Israel's relative free market economy and take advantage of the many opportunities it offers. The demographic problem cannot be redressed by an influx of new blood because it is impossible to attract new members. Many kibbutzim in an effort to survive are giving back unused land to the state, which was leased to them in the past and is now being used to build private dwellings for those who want to live in the country and take advantage of the excellent communal services of the kibbutzim without being outright members. There are approximately 250 kibbutzim and many are busy trying to create "demographic annexes". Of the 29 kibbutzim in the far north of Israel, 28 have petitioned the authorities for permission to build their own special residential extensions. In Hebrew this program is called "Arhavot", which means extensions. Iko Assa the CEO of "Ampa Bagalil", a real estate company, which specializes in promoting such projects told The Jerusalem Post that the program would be beneficial to both the kibbutzim and the general public. "The population of many kibbutzim are experiencing bug falls and it is very difficult for the few that remain to maintain the level of services to which they have become accustomed. Lush grounds, communal dining which in most cases is now serviced by an outside company, swimming pool, excellent educational and medical facilities etc," said Assa. "Those families who come to live in the Arhavot do not become members of the kibbutz but they pay municipal taxes to the kibbutz and they can partake of all the services rendered." For young married couples with children this can be an excellent arrangement. The kibbutz has all the facilities to care for children of all ages, from infants up to the 12th grade in high school. The children are cared for in a supportive environment and it also means that both parents can work without having to worry about finding a nanny. The price of such dwellings can be inexpensive if it is in the peripheral areas of the country but it can be much more expensive in those kibbutzim which are nearer the center. The price of the land is fixed by the government or more precisely by the Israel Land Authority (ILA). The Arhavot are built on land which once belonged to the kibbutz and were leased to them for agricultural purposes. If no longer used as such, they are returned to the state that is the ILA. The ILA then leases the land to those who want to build their homes in the Arhavot. A kibbutz who is willing to create an Arhava, petitions the authorities for permission to create a new neighborhood and then signs a contract with a development company which will build the houses and the infrastructure. The prospective "clients" are first vetted by the kibbutz and if they are deemed suitable apply to the ILA to buy a specific plot of land. According to the contract the houses can only be built by the company which has been contracted by the kibbutz for that purpose. Prices are relatively inexpensive in a kibbutz in the Upper Galillee, where a spacious 150 square metres house on a 1,000 square metres plot will cost between NIS 500,000 and NIS 600,000. In a kibbutz located midway between Tel Aviv and Beer Sheva the same house in terms of space on a 500 square metres plot will cost from NIS 800,000 to NIS 1.2 million.