Kibbutz Yahel Today
Kibbutz Yahel is located in the southern Arava, about 65Km north of Eilat. Yahel is the northern most outpost of the ten kibbutzim that make up the Hevel Eilot regional council, the municipality for shared cultural and economic activity. Kibbutz Yahel was founded in November 1976 as a joint venture of the United Kibbutz Movement (T.A.K.A.M.) and the Movement for Progressive Judaism.
Yahel sits in a sheltered spot in a desert wilderness of primal beauty, surrounded by nature trails and hiking routes – including Nahal Vardit, Nahal Barak, Sapir Park and the Ramon craters. South of us are Timna Park, the Pillars of Amram, the Shekhoret Canyon and the Red Canyon. To our west is Nahal Ya’alon, a favorite choice for hiking, mountain biking, and picnics. East of us is the Bulbus Field, with a network of routes strewn with iconic giant round boulders and beloved by off-road cyclists and geology enthusiasts.
Yahel is about 200 meters (656 feet) above sea level. From here, the land slopes southward toward the Red Sea and northward toward the Dead Sea — but many millions of years ago, the entire area was underwater. Today if you go walking in the hills around Yahel and keep a sharp eye out, you will often find fossilized seashells perfect for collecting. Hint: kids love fossil-hunting.
Meanwhile, the kibbutz itself is surrounded by groves of date palms and much of the perimeter road is planted with olive trees. There is a splendid view of the Jordanian Edom Mountains from anywhere on campus
Kibbutz Yahel enjoys the coolest climate in the southern Arava. The prevailing low humidity and northerly breezes ease the summer heat. In addition, all the kibbutz buildings are air conditioned. The winter is clear and dry, allowing denizens of the plant and animal world to flourish.
Today Kibbutz Yahel houses about 84 members and candidates as well as 92 children, the youngest born in 2020. The ages of the members range from twenty five to seventy. Yahel is a mult faceted community. Approximately 70% of its members are native born ‘Sabras’, and the remaining 30% are ‘Olim’, mainly from the United States, but also from South Africa, former soviet union, Moroccoo, South America, France and Russia.
The kibbutz’s economy is mainly based on the kibbutz’s palm industry. There is a factory that supports the sorting and packaging of dates and an innovative line of producing natural snacks without additives such as stabilizers, sugars and preservatives. In addition, the kibbutz invests in the field of renewable energy and is currently establishing in collaboration with the Aug-Wind company, a pilot for energy storage. There is also A dairy herd of over 650 cows. All together provides a steady year-round income. Kibbutz Yahel’s rapidly expanding tourism branch houses a newly renovated guest house and seminar center that offers educational programming in a variety of areas to chartered groups, runs guided desert tours of the Negev and Arava. Other members of Kibbutz Yahel work in regional industries as computer programmers and analysts, comptrollers, air traffic controllers, lawyers, laboratory technicians, social workers, teachers, park rangers and managers. Over the past several years Yahel has been making a profit which we use primarily to reinvest in our Business a
nd community. We live within our means, while always searching for new means of production, especially in the spheres of hi-tech or specialized agriculture, industry, and tourism
We are striving tirelessly to promote economically responsible behavior in all branches and to teach all members to think and act in a way that will produce greater profit at less expense. To this end, we have built a cost accounting system that provides branch managers and decision makers with accurate information in ‘real time’, thus allowing for informed decisions about future activities.
The Ultimate authority is the Asepha, the general meeting of all members. The Asepha is served by various committees. They include the following: Absorption (new members), Financial management, community management, Education, Health, Culture
Education and Health
Our children daycare begins at 7:30 AM and concludes at 4:00 PM.
Early childhood education at Yahel reflects the spirit of kibbutz. The children go on supervised walks around the kibbutz from an early age. They encounter the adults during their workday and become familiar with their surroundings. Early childhood is a foundational stage in developing children’s thinking, their skills and abilities, values, communication, and cooperation with those around them.
Our Nof Adom primary school (grades 1-6) and Ma’ale Shaharut high school (grades 7-12) are rated among Israel’s top twenty schools by the Pedagogical Authority of the Ministry of Education. The high school is run partly on an innovative PBL (problem-based learning) system.
At Yahel, informal learning for children of school age centers at a “kolelet “– the place where they spend time as a group, after school and on school holidays. Supervised activities vary with the season and incorporate the annual cycle of holidays. It is our specific aim to supplement our children’s education with liberal Jewish content so that their sense of identity is built on informed choices. To this end, we employ a part time rabbi and youth leaders who work with them. The children go on hikes and field trips and do arts and crafts. They have special Games Days along with routine playground activity. They see films and have discussions and go swimming (in season), and enjoy special activities of many kinds planned just for them.
Human dignity, tolerance, responsibility, independence and caring for others are the foundational values in a Hevel Eilot education. Our schools aspire to nurture young people to be curious and independent, to think critically and make good choices, and eventually to integrate into and contribute to their society.
Our infirmary is responsible for providing health care to a community of over 300 people. We receive specialist treatment at the Yotvata regional clinic and in Eilat
Kibbutz Yahel’s community life is traditional yet modern. The Kibbutz has a Reform synagogue in which services are held every Friday night, and on Chagim (holidays). At Yahel traditional and secular Jews live together in a spirit of harmony and mutual respect. The sanctity of the Shabbat and Kashrut in our communal dining hall are community values, but there is total freedom of choice regarding activities within each member’s home. Our rich community life is based on values of Zionism, egalitarianism, Tikkun Olam and diversity
Culture, Sport and Society
Yahel has a beautiful cultural center that contains a synagogue, library and club room. The center is open several times a week and is a community center in the true sense of the word. Our sports center include outdoor tennis court, a basketball court and a soccer field, as well as a swimming pool (open in the summer months) .
Yahel’s cultural committee presents cultural evenings about once every two weeks with highlights at the holidays. it presents concerts, plays and other cultural events.
Yahel celebrates the holidays in a joyful and very Jewish manner, blending religious, agricultural and cultural elements in a unique way. Celebration of the holidays is a central part of our social and cultural lives.
Kibbutz Yahel is interested in absorbing couples and families with children who want to be full partners in the continuing challenge of forging a home in the desert. We at Yahel are looking for more young families who want to come and take an active part in our community life:
- Join our holiday celebrations and other special activities
- Help organize a community event
- Bring your ideas and initiate shared activities
- Take responsibility for helping to build social cohesion
At Yahel, we provide plenty of room for individual initiatives. Let’s say you want to start a community garden, an evening just for women, a children’s story hour at the library, or anything else that looks worthwhile to you: The kibbutz will have your back. We will do our utmost to help you make your idea a reality, to the best of your ability (and ours).