On the kibbutz, Shavuot is a time to remember the glory days of the movement – Low Calorie Diets Tips

KIBBUTZ GINEGAR, Israel (JTA) — As the song “Golden Youth” by kibbutz folk band Gevatron played in an outdoor alcove beneath the community center of this farming village on Wednesday afternoon, choreographer Tamar Danin, 15, gently directed her charges — a dozen girls , ages 9-13 — on the stretches and tambourine beating they will be doing at a Saturday night performance to open the Shavuot holiday.

The dance will be one of eight performed by different age groups, including parents with their babies, at a cultural event expected to seat 500 people.

The audience will be seated alfresco, looking south across the vast Jezreel Valley, dubbed the “breadbasket of Israel” for its many kibbutz and moshav communities, including some of the oldest in the country. Ginegar, which was relocated to this fertile region 100 years ago, produces grapefruit, tangerines, olives, cotton, corn, wheat, barley, sorghum, tomatoes, watermelons and avocados.

Shavuot, a biblical festival celebrating the first fruits and grains of the spring harvest, is the most widespread holiday on Israel’s communal farms, the vast majority of which are non-religious.

Communal Shavuot celebrations on a kibbutz generally involve dance performances and parades by residents representing all departments of the community. Children and adults carry wicker baskets modeled on the biblical harvest sacrifices.

On Shavuot, “the identity of the kibbutz, particularly the Jewish identity, is strengthened,” said Ayelet Glass, head of the society and community department of the kibbutz movement and a resident of the Mediterranean Kibbutz Palmachim.

Young children celebrate the upcoming Jewish holiday of Shavuot in Moshav Yashresh, June 2, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The holiday has had a deep resonance despite the economic and social crises that shook the kibbutz movement in the 1980s and 1990s, prompting radical changes such as privatization. A movement based on collective principles began to allow people to keep their outside income; closed community dining halls, child rearing and overseas volunteer programs; and welcomed outsiders to build houses on the site without becoming members.

About 190,000 people — just 63,000 of them kibbutz members — now live in the 248 agricultural villages, said Roi Shabtai, a spokesman for the kibbutz movement, which represents 230 of the communities.

Kibbutz residents say Shavuot celebrations endure by evoking simpler times and appealing to people looking for communal bonds in an era of increasing individualism.

Israelis at a celebration of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot in Moshav Kfar Yedidia on June 9, 2019. (Flash90)

Elsewhere in Israel, faithful families connect with the celebration of the holiday of Torah delivery on Mount Sinai by studying religious texts throughout the night. Traditional and even secular families gather for dairy dishes of lasagne, cheese blintz and cheesecake, a nod to the ancient Israelites’ abstinence from meat after receiving the Torah.

Danin, the choreographer, said her friends come here every Shavuot to witness a spectacle that is lacking in their towns and cities.

“They think it’s just a holiday of dairy and cheese,” she said. “They’re looking for something else.”

While Ginegar’s hour-long event remains fairly consistent from year to year, new elements keep it fresh. This shavuot will feature a concert stage and a plaza lined with kiosks selling homemade food, fresh juices and snacks. The establishment of the street festival aims to promote conviviality among veterans, non-members and visitors from the area and beyond. Light aircraft, typically used for field fumigation, are used for skywriting and aerial stunts.

Israelis were seen at a celebration of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot at Kibbutz Sarid in Emek Yizrael on June 8, 2019. (Anat Hermony/Flash90)

Some of the additions were introduced by Shimrit Gershon, Ginegar’s culture coordinator. Gershon moved here 13 years ago with her husband and children and built a house in a new neighborhood called The Expanse – a nickname used in other kibbutz – where non-members live. Their houses tend to stand out from the smaller, older buildings on the kibbutz.

While some outsiders, including their neighbors, enjoy the pastoral environment but don’t participate in the communal — some say closed — life of the kibbutz, Gershon prefers to invest in the community, Gershon says.

“I wanted to belong, to belong. It’s good to feel connected to something and it’s fun to meet people of different ages, types and characters,” she said.

Israelis seen at a celebration of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot at Kibbutz Sarid in Emek Yizrael on May 16, 2021. (Anat Hermony/Flash90)

Among the dancers at the afternoon rehearsal was Gershon’s 12-year-old daughter, Orr.

Speaking of the Shavuot event, which she also attended last year, Orr Gershon said, “I like the atmosphere, the people, the field” and the white costume with the pink sash she will be wearing.

Non-members like Gershon offer hope for the preservation of kibbutz as cohesive communities, if not as socialist enclaves. The same applies to the young people who grew up there, who moved to the cities after military service, but are increasingly withdrawing to the nurturing environment to raise their families.

Both groups will be critical to replenishing and energizing an aging population.

Israelis at a celebration of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot in Moshav Kfar Yedidia on June 9, 2019. (Flash90)

Even more recent terminology points to a more welcoming attitude, such as the “members with economic autonomy” category for residents of The Expanse.

Maria Sela, 49, who immigrated from Sweden in 1993 and became a full member through her husband, Oded, who is from Ginegar, estimates that fewer than 150 of the kibbutz’s 800 residents are members. Eighty percent of the 150, she said, were over 70 years old.

“The Expanse has made a huge difference,” Sela said of the neighborhood’s 300 residents. Other kibbutz residents are college students and women doing community service in lieu of conscription.

Israelis seen at a celebration of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot at Kibbutz Sarid in Emek Yizrael on May 16, 2021. (Anat Hermony/Flash90)

Some of the experienced kibbutzniks are still very much alive.

Dan Eick had just wrapped up an adults-only Shavuot rehearsal late Wednesday night, which was attended by people aged between 40 and 70. The half-hour gathering took place on the kibbutz’s outdoor basketball court. It was there that the Shavuot meetings were held until, in recent years, they outgrew the premises and moved to the field.

Ginegar has seen communal celebrations come and go. Jerusalem Day events have fizzled out, and Gershon expects commemorations of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination to also soon come to an end. Even Passover gatherings fell by the wayside, but they’ve come back, with this year’s Seder drawing 300 people.

Israelis seen at a celebration of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot at Kibbutz Sarid in Emek Yizrael on May 16, 2021. (Anat Hermony/Flash90)

Shavuot celebrations are going nowhere, Eick believes. A retired accountant, he was born in Ginegar and has only lived here, but his three sons and eight grandchildren live elsewhere. Everyone will go to the kibbutz for the holidays.

Eick, 75, expects his younger sons to do what they always do: playfully urge their eldest brother Ido, 49, to return home to live.

“They want him to replace us when our souls return to the Creator to keep their connection to the kibbutz so they can continue to visit him,” Eick said.

He ponders a question as to whether Ido is likely to acquiesce.

“I won’t be here to confirm it,” Eick said, “but I think so.”

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