chapter  5
‘Today’s Child is Tomorrow’s State’: Kibbutz Children’s House as Nursery for the Good Zionist Subject, 1922–1948
Pages 31

Even before there was any permanent structure in the Jezreel Valley, its Kibbutz communes regarded themselves as permanent national settlements once their first children were born. Children marked intentional settlement (rather than the ad hoc formation of the first Kibbutz Degania), and planning for a long-term future in the homeland. As recounted by the mother of the first child of Kibbutz Tel Yosef:

This testimony makes three important points: assertion that a ‘proper settlement’ is only one that includes families with children; the sense that removing the child would be betraying the settlement’s integrity as ‘homeland’; and a sense that these two principles rely on adequate housing conditions for babies (Lieblich, 2010; Shlomnitzki, 2002). The Kibbutz austere living conditions, primarily in tents, were identified by this mother, her commune, and the surrounding community as inadequate for babies – requiring thinking about ‘dwellings for children’ as a separate problem for the physical and social wellbeing of the community, and developing new dwelling forms for this purpose.