The Kibbutz: Ideal, Crisis, Renewal (Updated 10/25/16)
The Center for Israel Studies and Jewish Studies Program host an international conference, “The Kibbutz: Ideal, Crisis, Renewal”, Conference Proposal: In early Israeli society the kibbutz stood for the New Jew working the land with his or her own hands and building up collective agricultural settlements all over the Land of Israel. Even though the kibbutz population never constituted more than a small portion of the Yishuv, it was revered as the vanguard of Israeli society, and many prominent Israelis grew up on a kibbutz. Starting in the 1960s, the kibbutzim started to dwindle and become less popular among the general Israeli population. During the 1980s, it seemed that the kibbutz story was over. However, in recent years the kibbutz has seen an unexpected revival. Today, many Israelis want to live on the kibbutz, but not in its traditional forms. The kibbutz today promises an escape from the crowded, tense urban life. Interestingly, modern research has been slow to pick up this new trend. This conference brings together leading scholars, artists, writers, and activists behind the history and renewal of the kibbutz. We will discuss what the kibbutz meant for the shaping of the nation, how it entered its existential crisis, and the forces behind its contemporary renewal. We will address the kibbutz as a place of encounter among Israelis, Jewish, and also non-Jewish volunteers from around the world. We will discuss the diversities of the kibbutz experience, from religious kibbutzim to the modern urban kibbutz and remarkably, a shared Israeli-Arab experience. The conference will conclude with a film about the kibbutz that has received much attention in Israel and abroad and discussion with its director, a film historian, and the author of an award-winning kibbutz novel. To see the full conference program, please click on the website link below.