Tanned, confident, and physically fit—the kibbutznik became the symbol of contemporary Israeli culture in the early part of the twentieth century. Israel’s kibbutzim, collective farms rooted in socialist and agrarian communal ideals, helped create the infrastructure and culture of the State of Israel, produced a disproportionate number of political and military leaders from the 1920s through the 1960s, and came to define the pioneer generation of Israelis.
A new exhibition at The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) explores the influence and history of the kibbutz on Jewish life. To Build & Be Built: Kibbutz History traces the growth and development of these unique communities through photographic images, ephemera, sound, moving images, and interpretive text. It presents a concise overview of the history of the kibbutz movement in Israel, from the early settlements of 1909 to the present day. It also looks at the transformation of the kibbutz as Israel has become increasingly urban and modernized, and the movement’s influence on American and Bay Area Jewish life.