HaKibbutz HaDati 

The Religious Kibbutz Movement

 

 

About HaKibbutz HaDati

 

HaKibbutz HaDati is the umbrella organization that binds together the Orthodox Zionist Kibbutzim. Above all, these kibbutzim have the stated common aim to foster the values and principles embodied in the watchwords Torah VeAvodah.(The all-embracing commitment to Torah values and their practical application in all facets of human activity.)The application of these values and principles suffuses the life-style decisions made by the individual and the community, not least by the willing to take up and work towards the realization of national objectives.
The Kibbutz HaDati movement today includes sixteen kibbutzim, all together 8000 souls and seven educational institutions. In 1935, the movement was founded by a group of orthodox pioneers from Europe, a few years after settling in Israel.
Before the Declaration of Independence in 1948, the movement had succeeded in establishing 10 Kibbutzim in border areas around the country. No less than five of these Kibbutzim were wiped out during the War of Independence, but they were reestablished and rebuilt on alternative sites.
Since independence, six more kibbutzim have been established around the country. As mentioned, the founding fathers of the movement came from Europe, but over the years, graduates from the Bnei Akiva youth movement and immigrants from all over the world have joined the kibbutzim.
The economic base of the kibbutzim is founded on agriculture, industry and tourism. The Kibbutz HaDati movement’s self image is as a bridge between the secular and religious elements in Israeli society. For this reason, the movement has taken up the challenge to improve understanding along the religious divide. To this end, the movement established the Yaacov Herzog Center for Jewish Studies, and is an active participant in a variety of activities in this field.

A brief history of HaKibbutz HaDati

 

The beginnings of Kibbutz HaDati go back to 1929, when small groups of religious pioneers emigrated from Europe after preparation at training institutions in Poland and Germany. They set up temporary work camps on the outskirts of the established settlements. In 1935, five of these groups, under the aegis of the Hapoel HaMizrachi movement, established the Kibbutz Hadati movement. (The names of the first groups: Rodges, Shachal, Kvar Yavetz, Kvutzat Avraham, Ramat Shomron.)
Settlement in the Beit Shean Valley.
In 1937, the first three groups of movement members jointly established a new settlement in the southern Bet Shean valley, an area isolated from all other Jewish settlements and surrounded by Bedouin encampments. There was no access road, the area was marshy and the environment hostile to human habitation. Settling the southern Bet Shean valley was an intrinsic part of the overall plan initiated by the national institutions at the time, in an effort to put assets on the ground. Settlements were a fact that could affect the result of the deliberations of the Peel committee and the expected partition plan for the country. (Settlements were established as Tower and Stockade outposts.)
Tirat Zvi was the first group of Kibbutz HaDati settlers to enjoy the privilege of setting up a new settlement. In keeping with the difficulties of those times, they found themselves settling in a distant, isolated location. The area was rife with security problems and the physical conditions that they had to endure were harsh indeed. The farming and economic potential in the area were great unknowns.
Before the founding of the first settlement, it had already been agreed that the groups would establish “Settlement Blocs”. A group of religious settlements established by one organization within a geographic proximity would inspire mutual help in many important social activities be they economic, cultural or educational in nature. A further reason for the “Bloc” system was that Kibbutz HaDati members saw themselves as trailblazers in an effort to prove that adherence to Biblical precepts and commandments was also possible within the context of pioneering settlement. The “settlement bloc” was to be the more advanced stage in this process. Even before the decision to establish Tirat Zvi was made, land was set aside in promise for future settlements in the immediate locale and the first neighboring settlement, Sde Eliyahu, was established some two years later.
During the first years that the young group of people lived in the valley, they developed good neighborly relations with the local Bedouin. Notwithstanding that fact, the first large-scale attack on the kibbutz was launched in February 1938. This was the only time during that period of unrest that Arab irregulars tried to conquer and destroy a Jewish settlement. The attack was repelled at the stockade walls and the besieging forces retreated with their dead and wounded.
During the next few months there were violent incidents all over the country. The isolated settlement in the Bet Shean valley suffered greatly during those times. Mines, sniper fire, and uprooted orchards were the norm and five Jews died en route to Tirat Zvi. During that year, all the other settlements in the area were attacked and suffered losses.
By the end of 1939, as World War II raged in Europe, the violence faded away and the policies defined in the White Paper came into force. By then, the Kibbutz HaDati movement consisted of nine kibbutzim with some 600 members. Two of the groups were settled in the Bet Shean valley, and others were in holding, waiting for their opportunity to establish a new settlement.
After the declaration of the World War, the Jews in the country were encouraged to join the British army and local security forces. Kibbutz HaDati found itself in a quandary between the strong desire to enlist and fight the Nazis and the need to satisfy the country’s need for settlement. Despite the fact that the latter argument won the day, scores of Kibbutz Hadati members volunteered to go to war.

Further settlement during the British Mandate

 

During the war years, three further settlements were established. Kvutzat Yavne was established close to the town of Gedera, Be’erot Yitzchak was the first in the Negev settlement bloc, and Kfar Etzion was set up in the Hebron hills. As the war drew to a close, and the fight against the British forces in Palestine reached its peak, five more settlements were added to the Kibbutz Hadati manifest. Ein Hanatziv filled out the settlement bloc in the Bet Shean valley, Masuot Yitzchak and Ein Tzurim joined the bloc in the Hebron Hills, Saad and Kfar Darom joined the Negev Bloc. One further group temporarily settled in Birya, in Upper Galilee.
By the end of 1947, not long before the Declaration of Independence, Kibbutz HaDati had ten settlements and five groups in waiting, totaling some 2000 people including 470 children.
The War of Independence broke out on the 29th of November 1947. All the kibbutzim belonging to the Kibbutz HaDati movement were in the front lines. Members of Tirat Zvi repelled a heavy attack by the “Army of Relief”, and the Etzion bloc in the Hebron hills was under prolonged siege, withstanding enemy attacks on the southern approaches to Jerusalem until its eventual fall. Kfar Darom was abandoned after a fierce battle and a siege and that lasted for two months. At a heavy cost, Be’erot Yitzchak members drove back Egyptian forces that broke through the stockade defenses and entered the settlement compound. Scores of men fell in the fighting, five of the settlements were wiped out, and most of them were stranded beyond the borders of the nascent state.
When the war was over, Kibbutz HaDati was forced to start again, almost from the very beginning.
During the years 1948-1950, groups organized under the banner of Kibbutz HaDati settled eleven locations around the country. Five of the groups were already experienced but the other six were fresh starts.
(The five experienced groups: Ein Tzurim, Nir Etzion, Masuot Yitzchak, Beerot Yitzchak, and Bnei Darom. The six new groups: Shluchot, Lavi, Mechorah, HaTchiya, Shachar, Achdut.)
The 50’s and 60’s were the years in which the movement rehabilitated and firmly established itself. The kibbutzim grew and developed a diversified economy. The first generation of children became members, and groups from Bnei Akiva began to join the Kibbutzim on a regular basis. In 1966, a renewed settlement impetus got off the ground, starting with Alumim settling on the land previously worked by Be’erot Yitzchak, and a year later, Maale Gilboa was founded.
The Six-Day War in 1967, proved to be the harbinger for a new phase in settlement all around the country and Kibbutz HaDati played an active role. The children displaced from their home in Kfar Etzion returned to rebuild the settlement that was destroyed in 1948. Rosh Tzurim rose on the site occupied by Ein Tzurim before the war and the Etzion bloc was extended to the east with the establishment of Migdal Oz. Two years later, Bet Rimon was established on the Touran hills, in the Lower Galilee, to augment the “Lavi Bloc”. By this time, there were sixteen kibbutzim associated with the Kibbutz HaDati movement.
Kibbutz HaDati has schools to serve the three main areas. “Shaked” in the Bet Shean valley, “Da’at” in the Negev and the “Joint High School” sited on Kvuzat Yavne.

Torah VeAvodah

 

The members of Kibbutz HaDati are committed to the ideas of “Torah VeAvodah”, thus learning Torah is an intrinsic part of the commitment to realize the ideology in concrete terms.
From the very first years of the movement’s existence, individual members went to study in Yeshivas for a designated time. As early as 1945, the “Kibbutz HaDati Torah Seminar” was established alongside the “Mercaz HaRav” yeshiva in Jerusalem.
A further attempt to establish a Kibbutz HaDati yeshiva was made in 1947, next to the Yeshiva High School in Kfar HaRoeh. A year later, it moved to Rechovot, and in 1953 began renewed activity within the framework of the “Kerem BeYavne” yeshiva.
It was eventually possible to establish an independent yeshiva on a permanent site at Ein Tzurim after decisions were taken at the Kibbutz HaDati general forum meeting in 1977.
The Yeshiva buildings were inaugurated in 1985, and then the “Shiluv” program opened its doors.
This program integrates a full term of service in the armed forces with interspersed yeshiva studies. During that same year, 1985, a seminar for women opened on Kibbutz Ein HaNatziv and eight years later, in 1994, another Kibbutz HaDati yeshiva was established on Kibbutz Ma’ale Gilboa.

Mission Awareness

 

During the 1980’s, Israeli society suffered from an ever-increasing polarization between religious and secular sectors in Israeli society. The movement’s general forum realized the gravity of the problem and decided to take up the challenge. The movement took upon itself the mission to form bridges between the disparate segments of Israeli society, by working on a practical level. The “Yaakov Herzog Center” was established as an institution of Jewish studies in which both religious and secular students could study together.
Throughout the existence of Kibbutz HaDati, as well as the foremost mission of the movement, to settle the land, much has been done to absorb new immigrants and help the needy. The movement runs Ulpanim for learning Hebrew and conversion- to-Judaism studies, hosts groups from all over the world and provides a High school education and a warm home for children from distressed family backgrounds.

HAKIBBUTZ HADATI
Kibbutz Beerot Yitzchak 
ISRAEL 6090500

 

TEL: 03-6072777
FAX: 03-6957039
E-MAIL: kdati@kdati.org.il

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