Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Urban kibbutzim plant seeds for improving city life


October 5, 2018

(ISRAEL21c)—Guy Gardi, a founding member of 25-year-old urban Kibbutz Beit Yisrael in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo Aleph, doesn’t consider himself a pioneer like the founders of the nearly 100-year-old Kibbutz Ein Harod in the Jezreel Valley, where he grew up.

Those original egalitarian communes (kibbutz means “gathering” or “collective”) struggled to establish fertile farms in long-barren soil, while today’s urban kibbutz is an intentional community working to improve quality of life and education in underserved neighborhoods. It’s a different kind of pioneering.

“The unique idea of an urban kibbutz is to take the old idea of a kibbutz—a group of people living together and sharing their resources to help each other accomplish a mission—and apply it to a social environment rather than an agricultural environment,” explains Gardi.

Five secular and religious families started Kibbutz Beit Yisrael in 1993. They moved into a former immigrant absorption center in a rundown part of Gilo and extended a hand to residents of the surrounding public-housing projects.

“We’re working with amazing people who happen to have a lot of troubles. To understand them we have to live among them, respect them and build trust. The connection has to influence both sides,” Gardi tells ISRAEL21c. “Of all the things I do, the most important is just to live there and be a caring friend and neighbor.”

Members founded the Kvutzat Reut nonprofit as a vehicle to promote social action and religious pluralism in Gilo Aleph.

For full story go to israel21c.org


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