Since arriving in Israel, we have lived together as a Garin at Kibbutz Maoz Haim. Our kibbutz is located 7 kilometers from Beit She’an, just a short walk away from the Jordanian border. Although I have spent time living on a kibbutz in the past, there is still a shock that comes with moving from a capitalist upbringing in the United States to a collective environment on the Kibbutz. I have observed both positive and negative aspects of living on a kibbutz. While it is nice to have the feeling of being part of the community at Maoz Haim (i.e.: receiving host families and getting to know the kids our age on the kibbutz), there is a sense on a small kibbutz that everyone knows everything about each other.
Additionally, you lose a lot of your individualism. Simple tasks become about contributing to both the Garin and the greater kibbutz community as a whole. This is not necessarily a bad thing. On the contrary, it means you have a community to help you rise when you are falling behind.
The collective aspect and strive towards equality that exists on a kibbutz also results in a much more modest way of life than one might be used to in America. Nonetheless, there are those who live more materialistically than others on the kibbutz.
It has been fascinating to observe the upbringing of the children on the kibbutz. While the children grow up with their families, they separate at age eighteen to live in their own apartments. These kids have been with each other their whole lives (including weekends off from the army) and reunite to work on the kibbutz after their release from the military. I wonder how this close bond between kibbutznikim would compare to the extremely close “brothers in arms”/ “achim la-neshek” connection that exists within the military. While some kibbutznikim keep very much to themselves, there is no doubt that a kibbutz is a very social way of living. There are very few times where you get a feeling of loneliness. You are always part of a bigger community.