The first kibbutzim were founded some 40 years before the establishment of the State of Israel (1948). Degania (from the Hebrew “dagan,” meaning grain), located south of Lake Kinneret, was established in 1909 by a group of pioneers on land acquired by the Jewish National Fund. Their founders were young Jewish pioneers, mainly from Eastern Europe, who came not only to reclaim the soil of their ancient homeland, but also to forge a new way of life. Their path was not easy: a hostile environment, inexperience with physical labor, a lack of agricultural know-how, desolate land neglected for centuries, scarcity of water and a shortage of funds were among the difficulties confronting them. Overcoming many hardships, they succeeded in developing thriving communities which have played a dominant role in the establishment and building of the state.
2) Most kibbutzim are laid out according to a similar plan. The residential area encompasses carefully-tended members' homes and gardens, children's houses and playgrounds for every age group, and communal facilities such as a dining hall, auditorium, library, swimming pool, tennis court, medical clinic, laundry, grocery and the like.
The kibbutz functions as a direct democracy. The general assembly of all its members formulates policy, elects officers, authorizes the kibbutz budget and approves new members. It serves not only as a decision-making body but also as a forum where members may express their opinions and views.
Members are assigned to positions for varying lengths of time, while routine functions such as kitchen and dining hall duty are performed on a rotation basis. Each economic branch is headed by an elected administrator who is replaced every 2-3 years. An economic coordinator is responsible for organizing the work of the different branches and for implementing production and investment plans.