The next morning, after another healthy Israeli breakfast, we drove just a little south to the legendary Kibbutz Samar. Variously described (and sometimes derided) as the “hippy kibbutz” or the “anarchist kibbutz”, Samar has famously combined communal economics with individual freedom. There are few committees or other bodies lording over the decisions of members. Instead, they share a single bank account (they used to have a common cash box, from which they just took money as they needed it), they work where they want and when they want, and not according the demands of a set job rotation. They don’t use hired labour for the grunt work. (Most of their money comes from growing organic dates.)
And despite the fears of the Kibbutz Movement and the predictions of skeptical observers, Samar still works in its own weird, anarchic way. We had a wonderful visit with Musa Menahem and his wife, both of whom were among the early settlers., and they told me many funny and inspiring stories about communal life on Samar. (More later.) I also asked about whether their children plan to stay on the kibbutz when they grow up. (They’re still not sure.) And we all wondered what a teenager on Samar would have to do to rebel against his or her parents: Become a lawyer for the Likud in Tel Aviv, I guess.
As several people told me, both on the kibbutz and off, Samar is an amazing experiment in communal sharing and personal freedom, but one whose structure has never been replicated becase it’s more about the unique people who live there than their rules (or lack thereof) for living together.
Afterwards, we dropped by Kibbutz Yotvata, the oldest and most successful (thanks to its dairy) community in the arid valley, and stopped for gelatos and a dip in the Red Sea in the resort town of Eilat. A perfect end to an inspiring day with amazing people who have found a way to live outside the mainstream of pure self-interest and hyper-capitalism.