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The Ginosar Kibbutz.
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The Ginosar Kibbutz. Photo: NazarethCollege.

The Einar Kibbutz.
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The Einar Kibbutz. Photo: Eylon Israely.

Lifestock in a kibbutz in Israel.
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Lifestock in a kibbutz in Israel. Photo: Andrew Ratto.

Kibbutzes in Israel
Including Syria and Palestine
Year Kibbutzes Inhabitants
1910 1 10
1920 12 805
1940 82 26,500
1950 214 67,000
1970 229 85,000
1990 270 125,000
1998 267 115,500

Map for distribution of modern day Kibbutzes in Israel and occupied lands
Rural communities in Palestine, later Israel/Palestine/Syria, often organized as independent units. In its earliest phases, the kibbutzes (Hebrew plural is kibbutzim) were small units known as kvutzah. It was after some time that these grew into the larger units that came to be known as kibbutz.
The organization of the kibbutzes was both a necessity, as well as being defined by Zionists: The new Jews in Palestine felt often that they couldn't rely upon others than themselves. And from the Zionist side, the kibbutzes were seen as the most effective way of taking control over lands in Palestine.
Before the establishment of the state of Israel, the kibbutzes were central in welcoming and integrating Jewish immigrants to Palestine.
Most kibbutzes are agricultural units, but they can also be formed as smaller industries.
By the end of the 20th century, there were more than 200 kibbutzes in Israel, with more than 100,000 inhabitants. According to figures of 1993, kibbutzes contribute with around 40% of the agricultural output in Israel, and 8% of the industrial production.

The kibbutz is a miniature communist society, where in principle all wealth is common property. This has however changed over time, especially since the establishment of Israel in 1948. Today, the inhabitants usually are allowed some private property. But still all inhabitants are provided for with all necessities, like food, housing, clothes, social and medical services. The inhabitants cook and dine together.
Normally adults and children do not form standard families, even if the adults have private quarters. The bringing up of the children, is also a common task of the kibbutz.
The kibbutzes have a democratic system, where there are weekly meetings in order to decide upon issues, and there are elections for administrative members.

1909: The first kvutzah is founded in Deganya in Palestine.
Around 1920: The kibbutz movement becomes central to the Jewish labour movement.
Around 1930: There comes a split in the kibbutz movement, into a radical faction wanting to form a countrywide commune, and a moderate that wanted to continue with single kibbutzes that should cooperate with the rest of the society.
1948: When the state of Israel is formed, the kibbutzes lose much of their importance in integrating Jewish immigrants in the Jewish communities.
1968: Some kibbutzes start employing Arab labour, mainly due to labour shortages in the fast growing Jewish economy.

By Tore Kjeilen