(p. C4) Today, in a break with . . . [its] communal past, Ms. Barnea’s kibbutz is farming for profit, and its main cash crop is medical marijuana. She recently retired from managing the greenhouse that grows the drug.
The shift at Kibbutz Beit HaEmek is just the latest sign of how much Israel’s kibbutzim are changing, as both Israel and the kibbutz movement move away from their socialist roots to become more entrepreneurial and profit-driven.
“We have to survive,” said Ms. Barnea, now 64, walking around the greenhouse as the smell of marijuana wafted past.
. . .
Facing a bleak financial future, young people abandoned the kibbutzim in the 1990s. Meanwhile, Israel’s vibrant technology sector took off, providing an additional pull away from the communes.
To reverse the exodus, Israel’s kibbutzim dismantled much of their socialist model. In 1995, Kibbutz Merom HaGolan became the first to go through a so-called privatization process, paying members salaries on a scale.
Today, most kibbutzim have undergone some form of privatization. Many members now earn salaries outside the kibbutz but pay taxes for the community’s upkeep. New members can take out mortgages with banks and buy land on the kibbutz for their homes.
. . .
Only about 40 kibbutzim still share resources and give equal allowances as envisioned in the original model. Most of these communities had created successful businesses that helped them maintain the communal way of living.
One such community is Kibbutz Sdot Yam, on Israel’s central coast between Tel Aviv and Haifa. In the 1980s, the kibbutz opened a factory that constructed quartz surfaces for tables and floors. Despite that venture’s success, the kibbutz is now considering whether to allow members—most of whom work outside the community—to earn their own salaries, rather than sharing them with the commune, said Doron Stansill, a 47-year-old member.
For the full essay, see:
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the essay has the date Oct. 13, 2017 , and has the title “The Kibbutz Movement Adapts to a Capitalist Israel.”)