This is a black-and-white photograph taken in 1973 at Kibbutz Shefayim. In the photograph, parents – a mother or a father – are walking with their young child across the grounds of the kibbutz. Walking in a line, each pair is holding a box, while other people are sitting on the lawn watching them. Although not visible in the photograph, the boxes contain bikkurim, probably fresh produce, being brought in celebration of Shavuot. The people are dressed in casual yet festive clothing: the men are wearing white shirts with collars, shorts or long trousers, and sandals; the women are wearing dresses or trousers. Kibbutz Shefayim is located along the Mediterranean coast, north of Herzliya.
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Shavuot - Shavuot, also known as the Festival of Weeks – is celebrated on the sixth of Sivan. Shavuot, one of the three biblical pilgrim festivals, commemorates many different things: it marks the day that the Israelites received the Torah on Mount Sinai; it celebrates the wheat harvest in Israel; and it signifies the end of the Counting of the Omer. It is celebrated with many colourful and festive traditions such as holding bikkurim ceremonies, eating dairy food, decorating the synagogue with flowers and greenery, reading the Book of Ruth, and studying the Torah all through the night (Tikkun Leil Shavuot). In modern Israel, kibbutzim celebrate Shavuot and the bikkurim with processions displaying their produce of the previous year, including fruit and vegetables, farm animals, and even the new babies!
Bikkurim - One of the names of Shavuot in the Torah is the festival of the first fruits. These first fruits are traditionally of the “seven species” that were special agricultural products of the Land of Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates (Deuteronomy 8:8). According to Jewish tradition, the first fruits, Bikkurim, were brought to the priests in the Temple in Jerusalem, as described in the Torah: “The choice first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God...” (Exodus 23:19).
Kibbutz Shefayim – Kibbutz Shefayim is located in central Israel on the Mediterranean coast north of Herziliya. It was established in 1935 by Polish immigrants. During the British Mandate, the kibbutz played an important role in assisting the new clandestine immigrants (ma'apilim) who arrived on Israeli shores despite British restrictions on Jewish immigration. Originally a traditional kibbutz, in the twenty-first century, Kibbutz Shefayim was privatised, and its economy is based on industry, hi-tech companies, a hotel, a water park, and a popular shopping mall. It is therefore among the wealthiest kibbutzim and even contributed money to assist failing kibbutzim.
Kibbutz – A kibbutz is a community where people live and work together in a collective, family-like environment. Kibbutzim are located throughout Israel, with many situated near borders or in areas that needed historically to be developed. The first kibbutz was established in 1909, with the original aim of forming a community in which property was owned collectively and everyone worked and contributed according to their ability and received equally according to their needs. Kibbutzim were egalitarian units, where decisions were made democratically and the economy was based on agriculture. In the last 100 years kibbutzim have gone through many changes. They now have a variety of industries in addition (or sometimes instead of) agriculture, including various factories and tourism. Most have been privatized with residents owning their own homes and earning their own salaries in jobs outside of the kibbutz. Likewise, many of the earlier communal responsibilities are now the responsibility of the individual families.