Photo: GPO
Kibbutz Deganya Alef
Photo: GPO
Deganya Alef in the 40s
Photo: GPO

Oldest kibbutz succumbs to privatization

Nearly 100 years after its establishment, the oldest kibbutz Degania Alef decides to undergo privatization. 'We'll continue to care for weaker members' says kibbutz secretary

Israel's oldest kibbutz, Degania Alef, this weekend turned back on the past and voted to privatize the communal village.


Founded in 1909 by a group of 12 young Zionists, Degania trail-blazed the Israeli Kibbutz Movement.


About a year ago, the kibbutz members decided to give privatization a trial. Until then, all the members' salaries went into a communal account and the members received services from the kibbutz and allowances suiting their needs.


As part of the trial, the members started to earn differential salaries deposited in their private accounts and to pay for services received from the kibbutz.


Last weekend the members voted on making the privatization permanent. The decision was passed by a majority of 85 percent.


Today there are 320 members and some 100 children living in the kibbutz.


Kibbutz Secretary Shai Shoshani explained: "The salaries will be differential but the members will pay an equality tax that will serve as a safety net for all the members. Those who earn less than a defined minimum will receive supplementary income. The dining hall will continue to function and we will provide a subsidized educational system."


Yossi Vardi, head of Emek Hayarden regional council and third generation to Degania founders said: "What makes the kibbutz great is its ability to renew itself in accordance to the wishes of the members."


Yona Shapira, one of the first babies to be born in the kibbutz 86 years ago said that now it was impossible to live on the kibbutz like they used to. Tamar Gal, another member said that the kibbutz was adjusting to the times.


Nirit Hadar, however, is disappointed. She has lived on the kibbutz for 27 years. "This is not how I wanted the kibbutz to be," she said. "This decision has ruined the traditional kibbutz."


"The dining hall is empty and the festivals are less festive. Unfortunately, Degania is no longer a kibbutz," she lamented.


פרסום ראשון: 02.19.07, 13:48
 new comment
This will delete your current comment