Degania, The First Kibbutz
Established near the Sea of Galilee in 1910 by 12 young men, Degania was the first Zionist farm in Israel whose members agreed to share the profits and supplies equally. This revolutionary communal farm and its lifestyle became known as – kibbutz.
In the following decades, over 300 kibbutzim followed the model of Degania, establishing communal farms across the Land of Israel. At its peak, 10% of Israel’s population lived in the Kibbutzim. Degania’s founders first lived in one house in Umm Juni, then settled by the mouth of the Jordan River. Due to ideological conflicts in 1920 some of Degania’s member formed another kibbutz, Degania Beth. Being close to the Golan Heights, in 1948, the Syrian army attacked Kibbutz Degania Alef and destroyed it. Yet, by the end of the war, the Israelis reclaimed and restored it. To this day, the kibbutz displays a Syrian tank at its main entrance that was stopped at the gates of the kibbutz.
Following many other kibbutzim, 2007 Degania’s members voted for fundamental changes in the communal lifestyle. Nevertheless, the kibbutz is preserving its quaint feel well, inviting visitors to see and appreciate its historical landmarks.
Visitors are invited to take a photo with the French-made R35 Renault tank at the Kibbutz’s main entrance. The Syrians used this tank in their 1948 attack on the kibbutz. Stopped at the Kibbutz gates by a PIAT round and a Molotov cocktail, it was left at the same spot where it was stopped. The PIAT hit of its turret is obvious.
Inside the Kibbutz, visitors are welcome to see the Kibbutz’ old courtyard and visit its first communal dining room, now converted into a Founders Museum. At the other end of the Kibbutz, the Gordon Museum is a humble-sized nature museum of natural History, displaying mostly stuffed animals from the region. Founded in 1935, it is named after A.D. Gordon, one of Degania’s notable members, known for advocating for kibbutz and work ethics. Children will appreciate visiting Galita Chocolate Farm in Degania Beth, where the family is invited to participate in chocolate workshops. Join the kids in making chocolate figures or a chocolate dream house to be eaten later or returned home.
A tour of Kibbutz Degania can be combined with a guided day tour of the Galilee.