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Literally, group or collective. Forms of communal settlement in Israel. The early halutzim, or pioneers, established the kibbutz on the principle of complete equality. The members of each settlement own the property in common. Every member has one vote in the assembly which manages the settlement. All members must work; hired labor is employed only in times of crisis. Women share fully in the life and work of the community. Children spend the day in daycare. Their parents come for them immediately after work and they spend their free time, evenings, and Sabbaths together.

The kibbutz and the kvutzah differ in several ways. The kvutzah has fewer members and was originally devoted solely to agriculture. Both types trace their origins to Degania, or the mother of kvutzot founded in 1909. The large kibbutz appeared many years later when the number of immigrants flowing into the country rose. It was felt that larger units would better serve the needs of the country. Industrial enterprises were introduced to increase employment opportunities, lessen the dependence of the settlements on the cities, and raise the standard of living. At present, virtually all kibbutzim and kvutzot belong to one of three national federations. These federations coordinate the activities of their members in such matters as marketing, education, culture, credit, and relations with the government and other outside groups.

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