A Morning At Ma'agan Michael Kubutz
Updated: Jul 30, 2018
While sharing conversation over Shabbat dinner I was thrilled to discover that my hosts’ mother, Chava חַוָּה (Eve in English),lived in a kibbutz. My interest heightened as I have always wanted to see one and I wasn’t even quit sure if outsiders were allow in. My hosts, Asaf and Lynne Halamish, shared they too once lived in the Kibbutz and would be happy to take me to visit the following morning. My heart was elated.
Located just outside of Zichron Yaakov is Ma’agan Michael Kibbutz one of the largest and wealthiest kibbutzim in Israel. My experience there was incredible as it was very special to be escorted by this wonderful couple. Many people greeted us as we walked about for Asaf spent most of his life in the Kibbutz and Lynne lived there for fifteen years. Truly, it is a small community (approximately 2500 people) and I could understand why one might choose to spend their entire life right there.
With the beauty of the sea before us this once swampy and sand dunned area was transformed into a prosperous oasis through the hard work and ingenuity of it members. Utilizing sophisticated agricultural and manufacturing technologies they produce revenue for the community through their sustainable products to include a fish farm, wheat, corn, dairy, plastics and photo etching factories.
This thriving community shares the wealth. During Asaf’s youth, children where sent to their own quarters to spend the night away from their parents. Therefore, parents lived in much smaller quarters. Today, homes are larger and families stay together (Each home is equipped with it’s own bomb shelter).
The facilities at Ma’agan Michael Kibbutz, from what I saw, were wonderful to include a children’s zoo, pool, recreation center, outdoor sporting areas, school, laundry, coffee house, store, medical center and a lovely dining center used for social gatherings which overlooking the Mediterranean. Members are also encouraged to utilize their creative talents to beautify areas and buildings. One member was given permission to create a park setting to display his sculptures.
This prosperous kibbutz was built on the ideology of “hard work” with “peer pressure” being a motivator to encourage members to do their part in contributing to their society. Everyone has a job to do and the community’s welfare is emphasized over the individual. All the members of the community have a vote and there are many specialized committees to ensure the kibbutz runs smoothly.
After our initial tour, Chava welcomed us into her lovely home and served much-needed ice coffee for it was a sweltering day. During our conversation I learned that with the support of the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association a small group of Hebrew Scouts (Chava being one of them) started Ma’agan Michael Kibbutz in this once swampy barren land.
I was so impressed as I thought of Chava’s life and the struggles she must have endured to help create this wonderful community. At eighteen years of age, this beautiful pioneering woman was extremely courageous to move into the Palestinian village of Kabara, depopulated in 1948. Now, in her nineties, she is still strong and determined to live her life well.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to discover the vast insight of her life, but I felt so blessed to enjoy this special morning with them. I’m sure that I will learn more from her at Shabbat dinners while I’m here.
I was also happy to learn a bit of Lynne’s story. It was after finishing her masters in the United States that Lynne decided to travel to Israel to study Hebrew. She requested Ma’agan Michael Kibbutz as her brother had also studied there. It was a six-month emersion program where you work for the kibbutz half a day and study the other half. Her first job was milking cows. It wasn’t quit what she expected with the heat and the smell, but she was determined to do her job well.
We giggled as she shared her eye opening experiences. During her time at the kibbutz she learned many skills as she worked various jobs wherever there was a need.
But like with every good story, something special happened. She met as young handsome man, Asaf and over time they fell in love, married, and had three children. Israel is their home and Ma’agan Michael Kibbutz is still a large part of their story. In fact, one of their sons sadly died in a military conflict and is buried there.
We had the opportunity to visit his gravesite. I was surprised, as it first appeared to be a garden full of life. Tears fell as I thought of the beauty of life and that there is also a beauty of death: A beauty in the memory. I too lost my son, Ian, only three years ago. I found myself so grateful for the precious memories of life. This place seemed to capture that beauty with gravestones as well as a community monument for holocaust victims who are related to members of the Kibbutz. .
Today, Asaf and Lynne no longer live in the Kibbutz, but both continue to contribute when their professional skills are needed (Asaf is an engineer and Lynne is a Thanatologist; who specializes in grief). Lynne has actually written a book on grief called, The Weeping Willow. I’m looking forward to reading it thoroughly. I recommend you to read it as well for it may give you insight to help yourself as well as others for everyone encounters loss if they have lived long enough as death is part of life. As specialists in their fields, I’m sure they are a great resource to the kibbutz and everywhere they go for that matter. It was such an honor to have spent time with this amazing family, and I’m excited to get to know them better during my time here in Israel.
If you get the opportunity to travel to Israel I want to encourage you to spend time with the local people and also experience a kibbutz. Better yet, make a point to visit one of the best - Ma’agan Michael Kibbutz. You will not be disappointed!