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Working on a Kibbutz

The first Kibbutz was set up in 1909 and since then there are literally hundreds scattered around Israel. Kibbutz are rural communities where work, income and property are shared by its members and were set up in an attempt to avoid exploitation without the need to accumulate individual wealth.

Gap year travellers or those on a career break, decide to venture into kibbutz life as a volunteer for all sorts of reasons; to experience a communal lifestyle; to be able to spend some time in Israel; to meet young backpackers from all over the world, to have a complete change from one’s previous situation or just to have the opportunity to work outside in the fields, picking fruit or milking cows

Kibbutz members generally work within their community in agriculture, light industry, and the service areas, which include tourism, education, and landscaping. The daily work schedule is organised by the work co-ordinator, according to the needs of the kibbutz and each member’s long-term work placement.

There are opportunities to live and work on a kibbutz for a few weeks, although some have a minimum of 8 weeks up to generally a maximum of 3 months, but for some you can stay for much longer. Work on a kibbutz isn’t easy - you will be expected to work as hard as the kibbutz members which means 6.5 to 8 hours per day (work normally starts early at about 5am, so that you are finished before the day gets too hot), and for 6 days of the week, Saturdays are free and you will get 2 days off at the end of the month. Normally, kibbutz volunteers are taken on a three-day trip every three or four months, paid for by the kibbutz. Places can include Eilat, the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, depending on the Kibbutz and area you choose.

The kibbutz volunteers’ rooms are pretty sparse with generally a bed with a sheet, table, chair and a small wardrobe. The windows may not be covered with curtains and the walls may have graffiti on them. But to be honest you will probably spend very little time in your room, except for sleeping, parties and a little privacy sometimes.

When you start at a kibbutz you won’t have a choice of what job you can do but most new volunteers start in the dining room or kitchen areas. At least tea and coffee is on tap!!

You will be expected to work hard but everything is free and most kibbutz also have a swimming pool, tennis courts, gymnasium and some even provide free alcohol once a week. The bar/pub on site will charge for the rest of the week. You will receive a small amount of ‘pocket money’ and this can be used for the beer which is cheap and plentiful. Certain basic toiletries including condoms and airmail letters are provided free.

You will definitely make new friends from all over the world. It is very social on a kibbutz with plenty of parties and barbeques and because you are all there for the same purpose you all stick together.