This is a photograph from Shavuot in 1940, showing members of Kibbutz HaZorea holding the first grapes of the season. The kibbutz members are holding a wooden pole on their shoulders from which hang beautiful of grapes. This scene is reminiscent of the spies sent by Moses to scout out the Land of Israel who returned laden with fruit. The photo also features other members of the kibbutz, adults and toddlers, dressed in white in honour of the holiday.
These pioneering kibbutz members showed courage and perseverance in spite of the difficult conditions in Israel before the establishment of the state: there was no electricity, water or roads, and they confronted many threats to their security. The pioneers were mostly young people who came to the kibbutz for ideological reasons, but very few had experience of working the land. All this made the bikkurim ceremony even more special, since the pioneers felt they had much to be thankful for.
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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 first, the crowns of your land, you shall come, the house of the Lord your God” (Exodus 26:26).
Bikkurim Celebrations in modern Israel - The early settlements in modern Israel transformed the traditional Bikkurim ceremony into a secular agricultural celebration – first fruit ceremonies to rejoice the end of the harvest festival (another term for Shavuot). The first fruits in the kibbutzim, in contrast to the time of the Temple, are not only the seven species but all kinds of fruits, vegetables, livestock, and even the babies born in the past year. The ceremonies feature colourful performances of songs and dances and processions of decorated agricultural tools and machinery, farm produce, and young children.
Kibbutz HaZorea - This photo was taken on Kibbutz Hazorea, located in the west of the Jezreel Valley. The kibbutz was established in 1936 by German Jews belonging to the Werkleute youth movement. Werkleute was a socialist youth movement that later, in 1938, joined the Hashomer Hatzair movement. Hazorea is undergoing changes from the model of the traditional kibbutz. While it is still a collective society, changes have been made to allow more individulatistic ways of live such as privatisation of certain services. Kibbutz Hazorea is currently the home to various volunteer programs including Garin Tzabar (a program for lone soldiers from abroad), and the Wilfrid Israel Museum.
Symbol of the Cluster of Grapes - The picture of two people holding a large cluster of grapes has become a well-known symbol of Israel and is also the symbol of both the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and the Carmel Winery.