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March 12, 1993 - Image 62

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-03-12

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earns the same wage as the
factory manager; likewise, a
teacher and a kitchen cook
are "worth" the same amount
of money. Currently, all
sources of income (from out-
side of the kibbutz as well)
are the property of the kib-
butz, are to be contributed to
the kibbutz treasury and are
equally distributed among
the members. A basic
premise of kibbutz (includ-
ing Beit Hashita) is "each ac-
cording to his needs and each
according to his abilities."
This requires every member
to contribute to the best of
his/her abilities, while the
kibbutz community is held
responsible for providing for
the needs of the members
and their families. However,
now the kibbutz faces pres-
sure from members who
want to trade in the old for
the new desire to earn indi-
vidual compensation for
work. Their motivation: They
want to buy cars, take trips
abroad, and have greater op-
portunities to send their chil-
dren to a university.
One kibbutz, Ein Sivan,
has been so swayed by the
changing times and attitudes
among kibbutzniks, that
members now receive
salaries from the individual
jobs. Beit Hashita, as one of
the wealthier and larger kib-
butzim in Israel, must also
contend with this monetary
dilemma. The people at Beit
Hashita who propose a new
method of money managing
are also the people who have
overdrawn on their accounts.
No money changes hands at
Beit Hashita; stamps in the
kibbutz post office and gro-
ceries in the mini market are
charged to a family or indi-
vidual account number. As a
result, the kibbutzniks have
little or no use for, and there-
fore little understanding of,
money, and 98 percent of the
members are "in minus" on
their accounts. Tracie de-
scribes this as one of the
most troubling issues facing
the kibbutz today. She sees
kibbutzniks lacking the
knowledge to budget money.
Consequently, they drag
themselves and the kibbutz
into financial debt.
With modern Western cul-
ture invading kibbutzim via
media, volunteers, "guests"
(such as Tracie, who will be
eligible for membership in a
few months) and visiting
groups (such as Otzma), the

members have begun to
question whether or not the
existing financial framework
of the kibbutz is still viable
in today's world.
While this community-
shared financial responsibil-
ity seems to underly the
kibbutz philosophy, other
characteristics reveal the
essence of kibbutz life at Beit
Hashita. One of the main
goals of the kibbutz pioneers
was to establish a place for
Jews to congregate. A kib-
butz is meant to provide a
way to live a full Jewish life
without depending upon a
synagogue or Jewish corn-
munity center, so it follows
that only Jews can become
kibbutz members. The notion
of religion is more or less ab-
sent at Beit Hashita; yet, the
cultural and family aspects
of Judaism are very much a
part of life on the kibbutz.
While the majority of fam-
ilies have • abandoned the
community dining room in
favor of cooking in their pri-
vate homes, on Shabbat they
come together to eat. The
laughter of children and the

Kibbutz Members
question whether
the existing finan-
cial framework is
still viable.

warmth of family together-
ness transposed the normal-
ly quiet cafeteria-style dining
room into one big, joyous re-
union hall. While I admit-
tedly enjoyed escaping from
the kibbutz for the free 36
hours we were awarded at
the end of each week, I also
loved to stay around and
watch the interaction of the
kibbutzniks as they hugged,
greeted each other and gos-
siped with friends and fami-
ly who they hadn't seen all
week. It was an unwritten
tradition that after dinner,
everyone gathered in and
around the members' moad-
on (clubhouse) for coffee and
pastries ... this was my per-
sonal favorite!
Holidays are a cause for
celebration at Beit Hashita,
and we were lucky enough to
have experienced several.
During Sukkot, sukkot
sprouted up around the kib-
butz, and a variety show was
performed in the outdoor am-
phitheater. Beit Hashita's



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