In Sde Eliyahu, a religious kibbutz, Beni, an American-born who came to live in Israel three decades ago, speaks with enthusiasm about this place. « In the Bible it’s written, « Take this ground, and keep it. Everything is in the meaning of « keep ». It doesn’t mean for oneself, but for the next generations. » Therefore, all the fruits and vegatable cultivated at the kibbutz are organic. To honor God and preserve the earth. On thursday evenings, the families come to the dining room to get the meal of the shabbat — during which they don’t use electricity. Tova, the grand-mother, came to visit the family. With a delicious french-lithuanian accent, she says: « It’s miraculous! Imagine when the first kibbutznik came, there was nothing. Nothing ». Shmuel confirms this, he had to hide in the woods during Occupation in France, to avoid being deported and survived because of the informal agriculture. Today, he’s fond of his garden, a wonderful place near the border with Lebanon. « When we settled in the 50’s in the Negev desert, the country was to be built. We had no water, no ventilator, no bathroom. Ideology was so strong that our classical music records were taken from us immediately. Even our children were raised in kindergarten and didn’t sleep at home », he remembers.
If the situation has changed a lot with the modernization of the kibbutzim, and that their industrialisation was necessary to survive, the kibbutz remains the biggest community movement in the world and a place where the human being is responsible and believes in a strong model of improvement. Sometimes, though, the kibbutznik forget themselves, get high degree diplomas but work on a farm, live with the others without intimacy… Fanny, a beautiful 60 years old, has lived in Yotvata for 30 years : « I don’t regret anything, but now I’m retired, I know it’s time to think about myself… »
[Published in Paris Match, november 2013]