The Urban Kibbutz is a kibbutz in the city, in a suburb of the city actually. It was set up in the 1970s by a group of real kibbutznikim ('real' meaning from a real farm based kibbutz in the country). They moved into a poor city suburb with many social problems and combined community living with social initiatives to help the local population.
One of their ventures is a primary school open to everyone. The main themes of the school seem to be: Orthodox Jewish living, learning, and values; inclusion of all children; enriching and encouraging skills outside of the academic curriculum (especially music); and a connection with the land and nature.
So why was I in shock? First of all, when you emphasise 'inclusion' you have to include those children who for whatever reasons, don't fit into the regular school system as well as those who would excel anywhere. Because of the emphasis on extra-curricula activities, children are always missing classes for orchestra, choir, dance rehearsals, tending to the school pets, etc... Each class also has a nature walk of up to a few hours every month to celebrate the new month. As it's a kibbutz school, everyone contributes and everyone has a job. Some jobs need to be done during class time. For example there is a rota of 6th grade students to organise and distribute the hot lunches to each classroom which is done in the two periods before lunch. And, saving the best till last, there is the greenhouse and vegetable garden.
|The green house is enormous with 3 fish ponds as well as auditorium seating.|
|The vegetable garden with the greenhouse behind it.|
|6th grade boys learning to use the pick axes.|
|Freshly harvested cabbages.|
|1st grade pupils working and learning about growing vegetables.|
|This is celery (and my fingers).|
|Red spring onions.|
|6th Grade boys working hard.|
It was the sort of day where you come away thinking that you really wanted to be a farmer.