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The Kibbutz & Moshav: The Moshav

The first moshav (plural, moshavim) was established in the Jezreel, or Yizreel, Valley (Emeq, Yizreel is also seen as the Valley of Esdraelon in English) in 1921. In 1986 about 156,700 Israelis lived and worked on 448 moshavim, the great majority divided among eight federations. There are two types of moshavim, the more numerous (405) moshavim ovdim, and the moshavim shitufim. The former relies on cooperative purchasing of supplies and marketing of produce; the family or household is, however, the basic unit of production and consumption. The moshav shitufi form is closer to the collectivity of the kibbutz: although consumption is family-or household-based, production and marketing are collective. Unlike the moshavim ovdim, land is not allotted to households or individuals, but is collectively worked.

Because the moshav form retained the family as the center of social life and eschewed bold experiments with communal child-rearing or equality of the sexes, it was much more attractive to traditional Oriental immigrants in the 1950s and early 1960s than was the more communally radical kibbutz. For this reason, the kibbutz has remained basically an Ashkenazi institution, whereas the moshav has not. On the contrary, the so-called immigrants' moshav (moshav olim) was one of the most-used and successful forms of absorption and integration of Oriental immigrants, and it allowed them a much steadier ascent into the middle class than did life in some development towns.

Like the kibbutzim, moshavim since 1967 have relied increasingly on outside--particularly Arab--labor. Financial instabilities in the early 1980s have hit many moshavim hard, as has the problem of absorbing all the children who might wish to remain in the community. By the late 1980s, more and more moshav members were employed in nonagricultural sectors outside the community, so that some moshavim were coming to resemble suburban or exurban villages whose residents commute to work. In general moshavim never enjoyed the elite status accorded to kibbutzim; correspondingly they have not suffered a decline in prestige in the 1970s and 1980s.

Sources: Library of Congress