Foreign Work Experience On A Kibbutz

Published: 26 Feb at 3 PM
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Filed: Working Abroad,Israel
Living and working on a Kibbutz is a life-changing experience for young people and a great way to gain an insight into a different culture and broaden horizons.

What is a Kibbutz?

A Kibbutz is a commune in Israel where all members work together to contribute to the running of the Kibbutz. If a member of the Kibbutz works outside, he or she will be required give their wages to help in the running and upkeep of the Kibbutz. In return all members receive free accommodation and food. Kibbutz were first formed by Russian immigrants in the 1920's to provide an equal environment where everyone worked together for the good of the whole community. Kibbutz members are called Kibbutzniks and although the size of Kibbutz differ throughout the country, on average a kibbutz will have around 300 - 400 members, which includes, men, women and children. In 2010, there were 270 active Kibbutz thriving across Israel.

Foreign Work Experience On A Kibbutz
Foreign Work Experience On A Kibbutz

Foreign work on a Kibbutz

Kibbutz operate 365 days a years so volunteers are always in demand for a variety of tasks on the Kibbutz. Young people can work as a volunteer on a Kibbutz in exchange for free accommodation, food and use of local amenities (if you are lucky, this could include a bar and swimming pool!). Volunteers also receive a small monthly allowance, which is just really enough to cover toiletries and other essentials. Although it is an enriching experience for young people, the work can be hard with long working hours, so not for the faint hearted! Slackers will not be tolerated and if the kibbutzniks notice you are not pulling your weight it is not unusually for them to ask workers to leave.

Most Kibbutz are mainly agriculture based with varied work including picking banana's, mango's and grapefruits or working on cattle or ostrich farms. However, not all work is based around the land and volunteers may find themselves working in the kitchens, communal dining room or laundry. If you are very lucky you may find yourself a cushy job cleaning the swimming pool or helping in the children's nursery, although these in demand jobs are very rare. Generally the work is hard, Kibbutzniks and volunteers work 6 days a week, from Sunday until Friday, with Saturday been the Sabbath day of rest. In most Kibbutz work commences as early as 5am for those working in the agriculture fields with a break for breakfast around 8am, then back to work until around 1pm. It is usually too hot to work after this time, especially in the summer months when temperatures can climb higher than 40 degrees!

How to get there?

Kibbutz work all through the year, so volunteers can work on a kibbutz at any time of the year. The most popular time is the summer months when students often have summer holidays. However, the winter months can still be very pleasant with Israel experiencing mild winters and areas in the South such Eilat and The Dead Sea are warm all year round. If you are considering experiencing life as a volunteer on a Kibbutz, the best way to arrange this is through agencies in your home country which will arrange registration, flights and insurance. Volunteers will often travel in groups and be sent together to a specific Kibbutz. Some people do just turn up at the gate of a Kibbutz, however this is not recommended as many Kibbutz do not like to take on volunteers without insurance and it can often be difficult to find a Kibbutz to take you on in the busy summer months when places are much in demand.

What is there to see whilst working on a Kibbutz?

Although hard work, a volunteer's life is not all work. There is still plenty of time for fun, socializing and visiting this beautiful country. All volunteers get a day off every week on Saturday and most Kibbutz usually offer volunteers three days holiday every month to allow them to travel and explore the country. This is an ideal chance for volunteers to visit some of the amazing sights this holy country has to offer. Well worth a visit is Jerusalem which has a wide mix of the new and the old. The old city at Damascus gate allows an insight into a world which has been little altered by time, whereas the new city is as modern as any western city with high chain clothes stores, bars, restaurants and clubs. The Masada is also a must see, with the view from the top at the break of dawn out of this world, however beware you will have to rise as early as 3am to reach the top before the sun rises!

Many Kibbutz also arrange day outings on a monthly basis for volunteers to explore hidden areas in Israel, these can often involve trips to the beach, visits to the stunning Golan Heights or outdoor activities such as white water rafting. Some Kibbutz also have their own bar which is in great demand from the volunteers and often the young Kibbutzniks will organise disco's and other fun events for the locals and volunteers to mix.

Downside to life on a Kibbutz

In addition to long hours and hard strenuous work in tropical conditions there are other downsides to life as a volunteer on a Kibbutz and this way of life is not for everyone. If you value your privacy, do not go to a Kibbutz, volunteers live, work and socialize together nearly 24 hours a day. Volunteers share basic accommodation which usually consists of two or three single steel beds, storage cupboard and fans or air coolers. However, don't let this put you off, the work may be hard and the hours long, but there is no other experience that comes close to time spent on a kibbutz. Volunteers will meet people from all over the world with lasting friendships formed between both volunteers and kibbutzniks. Previous volunteers spoken to have long lasting memories of fun and exciting times been a volunteer on an Israel Kibbutz.
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