Kibbutz Hazorea is located in the Western Jezreal Valley, at the foot of the Manasseh Hills
Unlike other kibbutzim Hazorea is the only kibbutz founded by graduates of a German Jewish youth movement "Werkleute", young socialist-oriented liberals, who originally sought to find a new alternative to the Jewish community in Germany.
However, with the rise of the Nazis to power in the winter of 1933, the movement's leadership changed direction and adopted a Jewish socialist vision, a socialist Zionist policy. Consequently they accelerated their preparations to expedite their Aliya to establish a kibbutz in Israel. In early 1934, the first members arrived in what was then Palestine; most of them had to quit academic or professional studies to take up training for a very different life as pioneers. As the year 1934 progressed so the group gradually concentrated at the kibbutzim site in Hadera. There they chose the name Hazorea to symbolize their connection with the land and renewal of their settlement in the Land of Israel. The permanent location for their settlement - at the foot of Mount Carmel, near the town of Yokneam was eventually decided and approved, and then they began preparations to settle down on the land.
A special fund was set up in Germany to purchase land and so facilitate early settlement. The Jewish institutions responsible for settlement in the Land of Israel at the time used the money to pay the effendis living in Syria and Egypt for the land. Nevertheless, the Kibbutz members had to wait for years until all the land was made available and only after Israel's War of Independence, was a solution found for the villagers of Qiri, and the residents of another village, Abu - Zariq fled their homes. Until then, members and the children born there had to live in conditions of poverty and deprivation, as they lacked adequate land and a stable economic base.
Visitors to Hazorea today will be surprised to find that the Kibbutz is located adjoining a dense green forest, which creates the illusion that you are perhaps somewhere in Europe. This forest together with all the forested area running along the ridges of Carmel Mountain range were planted by members of Hazorea and other kibbutzim working for the Jewish National Fund, while they were still prevented from working their allocated land.
During World War II and the years that followed, youth groups who came from Bulgaria, Syria and Lebanon, and a diverse group of young Holocaust survivors were educated at Hazorea. Many graduates of these youth groups remained at the Kibbutz where they enriched its social fabric with a wide range of cultural views and languages. With the large waves of immigration from North Africa came a group of children aged 10-11 to Hazorea where they joined their educational peer group at the Kibbutz. Many of them remained members of Hazorea to this day.
An Ulpan for teaching Hebrew to new immigrants was established in 1956 and operated at Hazorea for about 50 years and during that time contributed to significant social regeneration as many Ulpan graduates joined the ranks of Kibbutz members.
Later during the 1980s we absorbed youth groups who stayed here to complete their secondary education and many remained at Hazorea during their military service and several even joined the Kibbutz as individuals.
The Kibbutz members tried their hand at almost all conventional sources of revenue and some special ones as well.
Raising sheep and goats was tried in the early days and existed for about 20 years, when for some strange reason the workers here were mainly members with a Ph.D degree. In recent years the raising of goats has made a comeback offering high-quality dairy products, including cheese, for sale.
The heavy nature of the soil in the valley constituted a challenge to farmers - much effort was invested in drainage, land reclamation, and finding appropriate agricultural crops. Initial attempts were made to grow fruit trees, some dry farming without irrigation in the valley and on the hill slopes above the kibbutz. In the early years the vegetable garden was the leading source of income, and they also grew grain while later on growing melons brought in the highest contribution to the Kibbutz's economy for a long time.
Gradually melons were replaced by cotton and additional irrigated crops, alongside fish ponds, which constituted a part of the effort to solve the more serious drainage problems. For many years there were also orchards with deciduous fruit and vineyards until these were uprooted giving way to the more profitable irrigated crops, especially cotton.
One of the Kibbutz's first enterprises was a chicken coop where initially chicken eggs were produced and years later it was used for fattening chickens for market. This activity ceased in the early 1990s.
One of the most stable agricultural branches in Hazorea's history has been the dairy which has yielded good profits for decades.
The fisheries enterprise has become one of the Kibbutz's leading sources of income largely due to the export of ornamental fish and water lilies where the staff has gained considerable experience.
The field crops industry maintains its position as one of the leading agricultural branches and as the cotton crop has declined in recent years, efforts were constantly made in the search for alternative crops. To take advantage of the sophisticated equipment the members working in the fields have taken on contracting work in tilling fields and harvesting crops outside the Kibbutz thereby increasing revenue.
The Kibbutz has kept a small citrus grove for years and recently it was incorporated into the field crops' enterprise which will hopefully lead to a profitable expansion.
At some stage during the 1950s the Kibbutz realized that agriculture could no longer ensure sufficient financial support, and so industry began to occupy an increasingly important place in the Kibbutz economy.
The carpentry shop which started out as a workshop in 1936 eventually developed into "Hazorea Furniture Industries" and the furniture it manufactured became a household name not only in Israel but also abroad. However towards the end of the last century profit margins declined, and the plant was closed and the machinery sold to Jordan. The brand name was also sold and still continues to sell furniture under its new owner.
In the early 1960s a small plastic factory was purchased and given the trade name "Plastopil"; it manufactured mostly agricultural plastic sheeting and packaging for milk. The plant grew and developed, and in recent years it began to concentrate its efforts on producing flexible food packaging, which are much more sophisticated products. In 2005 the factory became a limited company and its shares were floated on the stock market. Most of the factory's products are exported all over the globe and Plastopil has become the dominant factor in Hazorea's economy.
In 1985, MABA – Quality Control Center was established with a view to expanding the Kibbutz's economic structure as well as providing the Kibbutz members with a wider range of professional occupations. By 1991 it received accreditation from the National Physics Laboratory, and has gained a fine reputation for providing quality control and calibration services for many enterprises, including leading companies throughout the country.
In 1996 large investments were made in establishing the "Three Wishes" site which was designed as a "Garden Center" similar to those in Europe and the U.S., and was planned to take advantage of the growing economy; it specialized in the sale of ornamental fish, water lilies and other water plants. Kibbutz members, who had no retail experience, failed in their efforts to make this venture a lucrative business and after incurring significant losses, the business was leased to local more experienced traders as a franchise.
In recent years goats were reintroduced into the farm and a dairy now produces excellent yogurts, soft and hard cheeses, ice cream made from our herd's milk. Several products have won certificates of excellence and there is a high demand for the dairy's produce at delis and restaurants.
Hazorea is noted for its open minded approach to innovation and initiatives, and various new enterprises have been opened in recent years; some of them were started up and then closed while others proved to be successful over the years.
A modest individual life style coupled with the decision to grant preference to the greater good, characterized Kibbutz Hazorea down through the years.
The Kibbutz's founding fathers left their mark on the Kibbutz's character, setting very high standards in cultural and social domains. Even during times of severe economic hardship, many important cultural events were staged, including concerts, operas, plays, puppet shows - all performed by the members, without outside assistance.
A children's play was presented every few years on stage and these were mostly adaptations of well-known fairy tales, but all the production was local, including words and melodies, direction and acting, costumes and sets. These plays became an important part of the local folklore.
Today, self-produced culture is more limited, but all the holidays and important dates are marked and celebrated as appropriate and various cultural activities such as lectures, films, and an occasional play or performance are held from time to time.
In Hazorea's early years, while very difficult living conditions still prevailed, and most members lived in tents or huts, it was decided to build a museum, named in honor of Wilfrid Israel. Wilfrid Israel was friend of the founding members, and collector of works of art. During World War II, he was involved in attempts to rescue Jews from Germany and additional lands. Sadly, he was killed when the plane he was traveling in on a flight from Lisbon was shot down by Germans. In his will he bequeathed a valuable collection of treasures from the Far East to the Kibbutz members. The museum has been maintained and run for many years by volunteers from among the Kibbutz members. Over the past 20 years, the museum has been receiving support from the Ministry of Culture and arranges a wide range of activities - permanent and temporary exhibitions, artist workshops, children's workshops, meetings with artists who exhibit their work, lectures, classes and more. Various cultural events take place outdoors in the Museum's ground for the enjoyment of the Kibbutz members and local residents.
Hazorea, like all kibbutzim, is a society that devotes considerable attention to the children. Our education system has always been well organized and supported with the children enjoying top priority where investment in buildings is concerned, and when it comes to looking after their needs. Children's homes have been adapted constantly to meet changing needs.
The education system includes infant's day care, pre-kindergarten facilities and kindergartens. A regional elementary school known as "Plagim" is located at Hazorea, and from the seventh grade upwards the children study at the Megiddo regional school, near Ein HaShofet.
The Kibbutz also has a system offering informal education services for children - primary, secondary division, after the regular school hours and during school vacations.
Until 1991, the children stayed in children's houses where they ate, played and studied for most of the day and slept there at night; afternoons were spent with the parents who were generally free to play to play with them at that time of the day.
With the transition to home sleeping arrangements there has been a sea-change at the Kibbutz, but even today there is considerable investment by the Kibbutz in the collective system, preschool education, non-formal education for elementary school and high school children. In recent years fewer kibbutz children led to the acceptance of many children from the surrounding area in the Kibbutz's day care centers and kindergartens but that trend has been reversed in the past couple of years. Those children, who continue on to the regional elementary school located in Hazorea, can also be integrated into the informal education, after school hours and during vacations.