We started our day with a tour led by Larry, a resident of Kibbutz Lavi, our home for the past two evenings. The stability and sense of community the kibbutz members feel is apparent in daily life. It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child, and the support of the community in the labor of love that is raising a child is evident in kibbutz life.
I saw this village supporting the core of what I love about my extended family near and far. In the kibbutz, there’s a communal laundry room -- like an Israeli version of San Francisco’s Wash N Fold drop off/pick up. There’s a dining room where families come together to eat, to break bread together, visit and talk, a place to see and be seen for THREE meals a day. Oh my goodness.
The kibbutz members share an ideology, they are of the same faith, same culture. Do they ask if this will be a screen free play date? Probably not, because as kibbutz families they share the same values.
Our tour of the kibbutz was followed by a trip to Beit She’an where we saw the ruins of an ancient major city, the remnants of a people and of their community. There were several centers where citizens of this ancient polis gathered together to create community.
It could be in the theater by attending a drama, or watching the gladiators in the arena, or by chatting in the bathhouse. Just as love of family, and purpose of work, and a sense of security are essential to community life, so to is the land in this ancient ruin vital to the building of the physical structures that house a community. The land of Israel forms the foundation for the myriad of buildings of various civilizations found in the Beit She’an.
As a parent this foundation has meaning to me because the love that I feel for my family is the foundation that propels me to finish my education. The experiences that I will build are based on that love. It’s that same kind of love that pushed the pioneers to build their kibbutzim. It led to the desire for a Jewish identity in a historically Jewish but then hostile land and built on the ancestral roots.
Whether it’s in an ancient ruin or life in a modern kibbutz, the love of family and the yearning for community is still the same.
Note: Regina Aguilar and Ken Brandt collaborated on this story.
Featured photo of Kibbutz Lavi by Chris Howell.