The United Kibbutz Movement The Movement for Progressive Judaism
D.N. Hevel Elot 88850 ISRAEL Tel: 972-8-6357911 Fax:972-8-6357051
Kibbutz Yahel is located in the southern Arava, about 65Km north of Eilat. It is nothing less than an oasis in the heart of the desert, enfolded by the hills of the Negev highlands to the west and facing the majestic splendor of the red and purple Jordanian mountains of Edom to the east.
Yahel is the northern most outpost of the ten kibbutzim that make up the Hevel Eilot regional council, the municipality for shared cultural and economic activity. Kibbutz Yahel was founded in November 1976 as a joint venture of the United Kibbutz Movement (T.A.K.A.M.) and the Movement for Progressive Judaism.
Kibbutz Yahel enjoys the coolest climate in the southern Arava. The prevailing low humidity and northerly breezes ease the summer heat. In addition, all the kibbutz buildings are air conditioned. The winter is clear and dry, allowing denizens of the plant and animal world to flourish.
Today Kibbutz Yahel houses about 65 members and candidates as well as 80 children, the oldest born in 1980. The ages of the members range from twenty five to forty five. Yahel is a multi faceted community. Approximately 60% of its members are native born ‘Sabras’, and the remaining 40% are ‘Olim’, mainly from the United States, but also from South Africa, England, South America, Rumania, France and Russia.
The kibbutz Economy is based primarily on field agriculture: dates, pomelos, onions, melons, watermelons and peppers. The dairy herd of over 500 cows provides a steady year-round income. Kibbutz Yahel’s rapidly expanding tourism branch houses a seminar center that offers educational programming in a variety of areas to chartered groups, runs guided desert tours of the Negev and Arava and hosts Israeli high school students during their annual field trip to the Eilat area. Other members of Kibbutz Yahel work in regional industries as computer programmers and analysts, comptrollers, laboratory technicians, teachers and managers.
Our newest and most exciting venture is the recent (February 2001) opening of a processing plant for the production of exotic dried fruits, such as Strawberries, Melons, Kiwi, Mango, and all sorts of berries. The uniqueness of our product is that it keeps it’s origional colour and taste, while having no additives or preservatives. This product is soon to be found on the shelves in Marks and Spencer’s stores in the UK, Wild Oats in the USA and various other supermarket chains in Switzerland, Italy, France and Canada.
Over the past several years Yahel has been making a profit. We live within our means, while always searching for new means of production, especially in the spheres of hi-tech or specialized agriculture, industry and tourism.
The Ultimate authority is the Asepha, the general meeting of all members. The asepha is served by various committees. They include the following: Absorption (new members), Economic, Education, Health, Planning and Housing, Culture, Work and Members committees and the committee taking care of the next generation, who are beginning to fill the ranks of the Army and the Universities.
Education and Health
The children’s houses at Yahel allow for a wide range of activities and experiences. Our children sleep at home. Their daycare begins at 6:30 AM and concludes at 4:30 PM. Our school aged children study at the regional school at Yotvata from the first grade on, returning to Yahel for lunch, homework and organized activities within the framework of their youth houses. It is our specific aim to supplement our children’s education with Jewish content so that their sense of identity is built on informed choices. To this end, we employ a rabbi and a youth leader who work with them.
Our youth centres are equipped with modern computers and relevant software in order to enrich our young people’s experience and keep them connected with tomorrow’s technology.
Our infirmary is responsible for providing health care to a community of over 200 people. Our family doctor visits us every week and we receive specialist treatment at the Yotvata regional clinic and in Eilat. The recent computerization of the clinic has not only improved the service it provides the community, but also provides direct communication with other medical services in the area.
Kibbutz Yahel’s community life is traditional yet modern. The Kibbutz has a reform synagogue in which services are held every Friday night, Saturday morning and on Chagim (holidays). At Yahel traditional and secular Jews live together in a spirit of harmony and mutual respect. The sanctity of the Shabbat and Kashrut in our communal dining hall are community values, but there is total freedom of choice regarding activities within each member’s home.
Culture, Sport and Society
Yahel has a beautiful cultural centre that contains a synagogue, a 15,000 volume library, a computer center, a social club and bar, television and table tennis rooms. The centre is open several times a week and is a community center in the true sense of the word. Our sports center include tennis courts, a basketball court and a soccer field, as well as a swimming pool ( open in the summer months) and an exercise room.
Yahel’s cultural committee presents cultural evenings about once every two weeks. The regional councils’ cultural committee screens every week first run films at the regional center 20 minutes away. In addition, it presents concerts, plays and other cultural events.
Yahel celebrates the holidays in a joyful and very Jewish manner, blending religious, agricultural and cultural elements in a unique way. Celebration of the holidays is a central part of our social and cultural lives.
Kibbutz Yahel is interested in absorbing single men and women,
couples and families with children who want to be full partners
in the continuing challenge of forging a new and meaningful way
of life in the heart of the desert.