The kibbutz of Paris. An association that promotes the kibbutz lifestyle

Why did the association “Le Kibbutz de Paris” choose to promote the kibbutz lifestyle, from France?

70 years after its founding, Israel belongs to the 35 richest countries in the world. A particular innovation skill propelled this “start-up nation” right in the middle of the OECD ranking. Whether it’s science, economics, art, etc. Israel amazes by its vitality.

Shimon Peres explained this creativity by highlighting how Israeli people “had no choice”, i.e., how innovation was an imperative for them. It was their only chance of survival in the face of adversity since the founding of the State. Jewish culture, for Shimon Peres, is also at the origin of this Israeli competence since it promotes for millennia the expression of diversity.

To excel without respite however, does take its toll. In an effort to avoid tarnishing the reputation of the country already well undermined in France especially – the criticism of Israel is now confused with his detestation and his detestation is too often used as a socio-cultural cement within nations – we could choose to ignore the two unfortunate consequences of this Israeli ” over-speeding ” culture.

At the risk of be momentarily vulnerable to our detractors, mentioning these issues is necessary if we want to get through this. In doing so, we will pull the rug out from, at least in this case, under our unconditional detractors. Let us also recall how much the destiny of Israel, as David Ben Gurion pointed out, depends in the first place on its strength and rectitude.

That being said, we can now ask the disturbing question: what are these regrettable realities whom we refuse to skip?

* Too many Israeli citizens struggle to live in an elite group. 1.8 million Israelis including 842,000 children live below the poverty level (1) and in OECD countries, Israel is far from being one of the top-ranked countries in terms of income equality (2)

* The “every man for himself” in the economical field with its social consequences 3 as well as an alarming crime which can not be totally disconnected from the socio-economic problem are now contrasting with the old and still recent history of Israel, a story tinged with humanist values specific to its traditional culture.

This continuing situation has plunged, for many years now, many Israeli and Diaspora Jews who feel concerned and responsible to Israel, in a feeling of helplessness. Some of them, however, faced the obstacle, managed to take things in hand in an original way: they reinvent the kibbutz. This modality of existence, which seemed to be declining in Israel, has become a popular way of life in Israel for a few years, a source of social hope   at the socio-economic level. Moreover, it is innovative in terms of the ecological challenges posed by modernity, in terms of both general ecology (5) and human ecology (6)

Here again, can we think that Israel is proving to be innovative, a force for proposals, a bearer of a socio-political model to support, make known and export?

The association “The Kibbutz of Paris” responds in the affirmative to this question and is therefore committed to promote the lifestyle or rather, “lifestyles” proposed by the kibbutz today.

What about these lifestyles? A bit of history to understand them …

Kibbutz is a Hebrew term meaning “gathering”. The kibbutz, originally (7), is an agricultural establishment based on the collectivisation of its economic resources and means of production.

Influenced by their conscious and unconscious Jewish transmission, from Essenes (8) to the universalist Jewish thinkers of the last centuries (9), as well as by a particular current of early 20th-century anarchist thought, the first kibbutziks from Eastern Europe adopted the anarchist motto: «To each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs “.

Abolishing private property and establishing a rotating working system, the ideals of solidarity and qualitative equality were not the only ones to motivate the first kibbutzniks to settle in the territory of Ottoman Palestine in the early twentieth century.

Very influenced by the political Zionism promoted by the Austro-Hungarian writer Theodor Herzl, their goal was also to build a home for the new Jew in the land of Israel.

Zionist and libertarian at the same time, the pioneering ethos of kibbutzniks was a fundamental part of their identity.

Having a great spirit of sacrifice and having contributed to the defense as well as to the economic growth of Israel, the Kibbutzniks enjoyed in the sixties and seventies the fruit of their realization as well as a high prestige among the majority of the Israeli population.

This prosperous period is now over.

Indeed, 90% of the 270 kibbutz (10) in Israeli territory are now economically privatized to varying degrees.

In most kibbutz, the rotating working system was abolished and expert committees replaced the community general meeting.

Kibbutziks receive a salary that allows them to afford private houses surrounded by fences, and many kibbutz today are more like gated communities (11) than former collectivist villages.

In parallel with this change, in the late 70’s and 80’s, the first “urban kibbutz” appeared in Israel.

Some “classic” kibbutz members (collectivist farming villages) realize that they no longer live in accordance with the principles of anarcho-Zionism. They regret that their kibbutz is concerned mainly with the well-being of their community, without taking into account the surrounding society.

These pioneers’ children and grandchildren then decided to leave their kibbutz to build their own communities in an urban setting.

With the common goal of reducing poverty and crime among the left behind populations, but also improving relations between Jews and Arabs through targeted socio-cultural projects, these new kind of kibbutzniks strive to revitalize the two concepts that lie at the ideological base of the original kibbutz movement, namely shitouf (pooling) and mesimah (social activism and promoting Zionism and Jewish culture).

Today, with nearly 230 settlements in most Israeli cities, this pioneering movement is reinventing the original anarcho-Zionist communities facing contemporary socio-cultural challenges in urban areas.

While members of the first urban kibbutz in the 1970s and 1980s had grown up in the classical kibbutz, it is now quite different for most of the kibbutziks making up the movement. They grew up in the cities and are very active members of various Zionist youth movements, many of them born at the dawn of the 20th century in Eastern Europe.

If all the members of these different movements share an attachment to the culture, language and history of the Jewish people, their relationship to religion is different, as is their educational approach, aimed at transforming the society in which they live.

Therefore, while some of these youth movements such as Bnei Akiva and Noar Masorti define themselves as religious and socially conservative, others like HaMahanot HaOlim, Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed or Hashomer Hatzair present themselves as secular and attached to socialist values (Russell, Hanneman and Getz 2013).

Organizing extracurricular activities, summer camps and also brainstorming sessions based on the concept of “Zionism”, the members of these movements carry out socio-educational projects with young Jews and are deeply attached to the concept of tikkoun olam (12) (“reparation of the world “), from Jewish religion and philosophy.

Considering that it is in urban areas that the main socio-cultural challenges faced by contemporary Israeli society, the establishment of communities within cities is, for the kibbutzniks and the youth movements they represent, a condition sine qua non for “repairing the world”.

The urban kibbutz thus restructures the social and spatial composition inherited from classical kibbutz while triggering a process of socio-spatial fragmentation. Indeed, the spatial characteristics shown in urban areas have allowed these “kibbutzniks-educators” – as they define themselves – to move away from the traditional implantation model based on a territorial centrality as well as on a clear demarcation of the kibbutzic perimeter through fences.

At the same time, these kibbutz “twin” with others, across the country, declaring themselves, despite the distances, belonging to the same kibbutz. The spatial configuration of these new communities seems to reflect the ideas and objectives of their members:  these pioneers wanting to reach the tikkoun olam, the “repair of the world”, forge a network of communities as extended as possible throughout the whole territory in order to change it.

The association “The Kibbutz of Paris” wants to expand internationally this network of communities to promote this innovative way of life and its ethics.

In this perspective of promotion, “The Kibbutz of Paris” supports Clara Quintilla-Pinol who just started a PhD thesis in social anthropology and ethnology on the urban kibbutz (13).

Her thesis, which will be published in both French and English, will be a valuable communication tool for this socio-political movement. It will allow:

* to further publicize in Israel and outside Israel the innovative way of life offered by the urban kibbutz

* to question with scientific rigor the socio-political relevance of this potentially exportable way of life.

The association “The Kibbutz of Paris”, for its part, exports and implements from now on in France the model of life proposed in Israel by the urban kibbutz as well as elements always relevant, in its opinion, of the classical kibbutz such as, for example, the report maintained by Man to farming, to nature (see Association website, heading “Ha Makom”).

By consulting the website of the association, you can read the actions of the kibbutz of Paris with the plans of shitouf (pooling) and mesimah (social activism, promotion of Zionism and Jewish culture).

These are unfolding around:

* Inter-kibbutz international hosting and housing 

* Courses (teaching cycle on universalist Jewish philosophers, training for “kibbutz-educators”, Hebrew lessons, etc.)

* Twinning with classic and urban kibbutz in Israel to implement in 2019

* Psycho-socio-educational programs to be developed within the KDP, share with one or more interested urban kibbutz in Israel and with the Federation of Black Jews with whom the KDP is in partnership

* Individualized humanitarian aid to develop within the KDP, share with one or more interested urban kibbutz in Israel and with the Federation of Black Jews with whom the KDP is in partnership

* Events (brunch / dinner workshops, celebrations, twinning trips and humanitarian aid, « Ha Makom » etc.)

* Partnerships with other associations

* Mutual support for emigration

* Support for causes related to kibbutz values

In doing so, the Kibbutz of Paris offers a possibility of international networking to the classic and urban Israeli kibbutz. This circulation of international experience shall be rich in sharing. It wants to be a bearer, both in Israel and out of Israel, for the Jews and non-Jews who will take part in the adventure.

The partnership established between The Kibbutz of Paris and the Federation of Black Jews confirms the perspective of the actions presented above since it begins on a project of aid (gifts of siddurim, books of study, clothing etc.) , export and adaptation of the classical and urban kibbutzic model in Africa, for the benefit of African Jewish communities.

Lea Ghidalia-Schwartz

President of the association “The kibbutz of Paris”

Clara Quintilla-Pinol


Member of the Association


(1) Figures released in December 2017 by “The Times of Israel”, produced by the National Insurance Institute: the threshold-of-poverty-ratio /


(3) A problem in Israel persists around the aliyah, in a country that claims to be “a land of welcome for all Jews”. In 1929, Ruppin, like his colleague Sheinkin, responded to letters from aliyah candidates, many of whom were fleeing persecution in central Europe, stressing the need for them to have sufficient financial means without which they would “No hope of survival” in Palestine. The country, for these two men, was then too poor to absorb a destitute population. It could not be a safe haven for persecuted populations. It then appeared from the statistics held by the Zionist bureau of Jaffa that 61% of the replies were advice of abandonment, for 18% of the cases, recommendations to the volunteers to come to realize on the spot the capacities of the country and only for 21% requests, incentives to settle in Palestine (“Lands promised before Israel” Ed: IMAGO, 2017, P: 55). In 2018, things in this regard seem similar. Netanyahu incites the Jews of France whom he considers in danger to rise in Israel. That being said, Meyer Habib (business leader, association leader, Franco-Israeli politician and fervent activist of the Jewish community as well as for the defense and promotion of Israel) warns: “I say to the French Jews: Either Israel fully recognizes your degrees and allows you to work after an internship of maybe two or three months, to learn the language, or you should not come. Because it’s going to be a disaster. ” Already in 2015, Meyer Habib told the Times of Israel that “professional elites in Israel are putting obstacles on the road to reform because they fear an influx of French professionals that would lead to lower wages for Israelis.”

It should be noted that the current problem for candidates for alyah is no longer the poverty of the country but the protectionism of its inhabitants.

– This protectionism or withdrawal from the individual interest is not raging in Israel at the socio-economic level with regard to the reception of Jewish emigrants. Jacques Bendelac, doctor of economics, researcher in social sciences in Jerusalem, recognized specialist of contemporary Israel and Israeli-Palestinian relations, expresses himself on this subject: “Values – in Israel – have changed dramatically in seventy years. We went from a socialist society, solidary, to a more individualistic and materialistic society, focused on the virtual. “

Tom Shoval, in 2013, staged with talent the modern socio-economic problematic of his country in his film “The youth”. “Two big teens live with their parents in an apartment in the suburbs of Tel Aviv: in debt, the family is threatened with eviction. We must find a solution, and quickly. The brothers, two desperately stupid anti-heroes, find nothing better to do than kidnap a rich girl. But when they claim the ransom, they realize that the Sabbath bans – not answering the phone, for example – will be a problem for them …

Youth could have been a nasty joke on Nickel-plated Feet and the Golden Egg Hen. But this first film, tense, sticky, brush is the very dark picture of a generation of new poor in a violent country. The eternal conflict between Israel and Palestine may well be out of the field, it remains present in the form of allusions scattered throughout the story – the uniform and the weapon of the elder who does his military service, the panicked question of the young victim to his captors: “Are you Arab? But for these two brothers without a future, the war has moved to another terrain. In this deeply unequal society, they feel like the soldiers of a new class struggle where all blows are allowed, even the lowest. – Mathilde Blottière. Télérama.,489010.php

(4) For more information, refer to:

(5) Ecology, in its original meaning, is a science which deals with the study of the interactions of living beings (biodiversity) with their environment and with each other within this environment (the whole being designated by the term “ecosystem”). By extension, ecology also refers to a movement of thought (ecologism or political ecology) that is embodied in various currents whose common goal is to integrate environmental issues into social, economic and political organization.

In the long run, it is a question of setting up a new development model based on a radical transformation of the relationship between human activity and the environment.

(6) Human ecology: the current for a human ecology makes the bet that a revolution of benevolence is possible to change the society. The crisis undermines social, political and economic certainties, and gives rise to major anxiety. Indeed, until today, no existing political structure, no providential leader proposes a solution to act on all these levers at the same time.

The kibbutz can however be considered as a proposal to respond to this emergency.

The urgency of building the long term becomes obvious. With the Courant pour une Ecologie Humaine, everyone is invited, everyone can commit to it.

(7) The first kibbutz, Degania, was created in Israel in 1910.

(8) Philo of Alexandria of the first century, testifies in his writings (extract relating to the life of the Essenes): “There is no house that is the property no one, which is, in fact, the house of all … there is only one box for all; the expenses are common … all that they receive as wages for their working day, they do not keep it for themselves but they deposit it in front of all … as for the patients, they are not neglected on the pretext that they cannot produce … “

(9) We think, among others, of Moses Hess, who criticized Karl Marx for both his anti-Semitism and his abandonment of the communal ideal, to Michael Walzer, opposing the abstract universalism of the left to the universal of the Sinaic revelation, through Paul Lafargue, criticizing Labor in the name of the Chabbatic ideal, or Ernst Bloch, whose Principle of Hope was to feed Jewish messianism with the over-supported utilitarianism of leftist thinkers. 10 See “The Kibbutz Movement and Anarchy. A living revolution. James Horrox. Editions of brilliance. 2017.

(10) Like Philippe Bouin, translator of “A living revolution. Anarchism in the Kibbutz Movement James Horrox Oakland CA, AK Press, 2009 (“The Kibbutz Movement and Anarchy: A Living Revolution.” James Horrox, Editions de l’éclat. 2017, we do not use the Hebrew plural “kibbutzim” but the nominal group “kibbutz” for the sake of simple transcription and to allow reading as close to their pronunciation.

(11) The gated community (plural: gated communities) is a socially homogenous neighborhood, generally inhabited by affluent, closed populations, and accessible by a minimum number of entrances guarded by private personnel. The fence can be materialized by a wall, a fence, a golf course, or a body of water. To limit the inflow and outflow of residents, private services may be offered to them within the residential enclave: schools, health centers, security posts, leisure clubs, etc.

(12) Tikkoun olam: in this case, tikkoun olam is one of the central concepts of the Zohar (Book of Splendor), which is the masterpiece of Kabbalah.

(13) Clara Quintilla Pinol Research Director: Ms Tassadit Yacine Doctoral Training in Enrollment: Social Anthropology and Ethnology This thesis project was presented to the educational council in charge of doctoral training at EHESS and it was approved.

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