Saturday, March 12, 2011

Off to Israel--37 Years Ago Today

On March 12, 1974, I landed in Israel to begin what would become a ten-month stay on Kibbutz Hulda, an agricultural community in central Israel. I was taking a break from college, where I was stagnating and having trouble choosing a major.

The Kibbutz Movement was a socialist experiment that was vital to settling the region in the early 20th Century and after statehood in 1947. A kibbutz is a community operation, so personal property isn't much in evidence or encouraged. You eat in a cafeteria, work together at various jobs, and run things as a group. In its pure state, even children live separately from their parents and are raised together.

This community idealism is apparent, and works under some conditions, but as the modern world has changed, many kibbutzim (plural) now specialize in industrial activities too. Mine was old fashioned. We had animals, cotton fields, orchards, vineyards and other farm features. I fed cows and also spent some time weeding the vineyards, and, for the first six months, studied Hebrew half of each day.

It was a great experience, but as fall turned to winter I was ready to come home and resume my college studies. It was fascinating to live in another place that spoke a different language and to meet people from so many different places. I never felt more American.

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