Have you ever been to a kibbutz? If you have toured Israel, or thought of touring Israel, then you know that a kibbutz is a collective agricultural settlement based on a Communist/Socialist philosophy. You may, however, have never heard of the other popular type of cooperative agricultural settlement – the moshav. The primary distinction between a moshav and a kibbutz is the independence of the members.
The first moshav, Nahalal, was officially established on September 11, 1921. Nahalal was built on land owned by the Jewish National Fund in the Jezreel Valley, an area known for its fertility and for its mosquitoes (and malaria). The name of the settlement is the same as that of a Biblical village in the tribal territory of Zebulun (Joshua 19:15).
The settlement of Moshav Nahalal was initiated by immigrants from the Second and Third Aliyah (waves of immigration to Israel from Europe). Many of the settlers of Nahalal who had previously lived on a kibbutz were attracted to the communal spirit of kibbutz life but wanted more independence. On the Moshav, members leased and worked their portion of farm land – as opposed to the land being communally owned and farmed. Another major distinction of moshav life was the maintenance of the traditional family structure. Whereas on the kibbutz children were raised in communal housing, the moshav children lived with their parents. The philosophy of the moshav was reflected in the architectural design of the moshav, which placed community buildings surrounded by family homes as the center of concentric circles.
In addition to being the first moshav, Nahalal was also known for its Girls’ Agricultural Training Farm, which was established in 1929 by the Women’s International Zionist Organization in order to help female immigrants from Eastern Europe acclimate to what was required of them to make the Jewish homeland flourish. In the 1940s, it became a co-educational farming school of the Youth Aliyah movement.
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