News Highlights November 2009

The First 100 Years

During Succoth Kibbutz Degania, the first kibbutz in Israel, starting planning for the centenary celebrations.

Next year will be the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the first kibbutz in Israel.

Several events and activities will be held throughout Israel to celebrate this very important milestone.

During December a hiking tour of the Negev has been planned for 1,100 final year school students from kibbutzim and moshavim. The trek has been planned by The Kibbutz Movement and the students will visit army bases and various settlements on the way. The aim is to forge a team spirit and encourage the participants to play their part in security or in other services for the nation and the country.

The various celebrations will bring esteem to the more than 250 kibbutzim spread out throughout Israel.

Looking to the Future

Plans are under way for a new program to bring tens of thousands of high school youth to Israel. This program is similar to the many existing programs, whereby post school young people visit Israel.

It is estimated that at present approximately 15,000 high school students visit Israel and it is envisaged that this figure can be increased dramatically by instituting a dedicated program.

The program will also dramatically increase the interaction between Israeli and Diaspora families, as participants will be "adopted" by Israeli families in the cities and on kibbutzim.

The Telem Program Progresses

The program which is geared towards Ethiopian youth is gaining momentum and 90% of the approximately 800 youth who have completed the program have found jobs in the city. About 10% have taken up academic studies.

Fifteen kibbutzim participate in the program which is supported by The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Kibbutz Movement and the participating kibbutzim.

A large number of the participants were unemployed and didn't have any clear plans for advancement before their entry into the program.

The program lasts for fifteen months and takes care of the participants needs for housing, work and education.

Givat Haviva Celebrates 60 Years

The Givat Haviva Educational Institute of the Kibbutz Movement celebrated its 60th anniversary. The Institute was named after the Jewish parachutist Haviva Reich who parachuted behind the German lines to assist the resistance movement which was fighting Nazi extremism and brutality. She was eventually caught and executed by the Nazis.

The Institute strives to teach participants tolerance among all groups in Israeli society, including the promotion of better relations between Jews and Arabs.

The center also has an International department which promotes seminars that give an insight into the interaction of the various groups in Israeli society. During the past three years more than 10,000 persons from abroad have participated in seminars which focused on issues confronting Israeli society.

A Pilot Program in Agriculture

A pilot program for the growing of castor oil plants will be undertaken by some kibbutzim.

During the first year 500 dunam will be sown with the seeds which need less water than the traditional cotton and corn crops. The crops take 100 days to harvest and two harvestings can take place each year.

Castor oil is used for energy, lubrication, medical and cosmetic purposes, but the processing of the seeds produced by the plants will not take place in Israel. It is believed that it will be more profitable to export these seeds to other countries where the processing can take place.

High School Children Come to the Rescue

The continuing dispute between the government and the growers over foreign labor quotas for agriculture has put 100,000 tons of produce for export in jeopardy.

Many kibbutzim and moshavim rely heavily on foreign labor for picking produce for export.

Several high school children who heard about the plight of the farmers have grouped together and decided to assist with the picking.

Although the volunteers' actions will provide some assistance, it does not nearly solve the growing problem of the scarcity of labor.

A Fund for the Needy

Discussions are taking place for the setting up of a fund for kibbutz members whose kibbutz is unable to provide them with a sufficient income and basic communal services. The fund is intended for members of kibbutzim that have been privatized and those from the old style kibbutzim which have been only partially privatized.

Several kibbutzim are in serious financial trouble and the idea is for members of strong kibbutzim to contribute into the fund. Contributions will also be sought from financially successful kibbutzim and organizations.


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