[Daily routine on the Kibbutz  [Work  [Food at the Kibbutz
 [Volunteer's Accommodation  [Transport  [Monday night discos
 [Historical and Tourist sites in the region  [What's on Offer in Tiberias

At the other end of the country, in the north, nestled between the southern tip of the Golan Heights, the Jordanian Border to the east and Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) is Kibbutz Tel Katzir.

Formed in 1949, the kibbutzniks of Tel Katzir have worked hard with dedication and commitment over the last 50 years in support of the their state of Israel and to create a better life for their children and their society.

It is primarily an agricultural-based Kibbutz with the main produce being bananas, grapefruit, mangos and avocadoes. They also have an ostrich farm housing some 20 000 birds which accounts for a significant part of the kibbutzs revenue and employment. The dairy breeds Holstein Friesians for their dairy operation in the Golan Heights.

Not everyone works on the land. Being completely self sufficient there are many other tasks to be carried out to keep the wheels ticking over - Construction (keeping the enormous swimming pool clean) feeding the kibbutz members, doing the laundry, keeping the gardens in good condition, as well as a host of other chores all need to be done. The Kibbutz has its own post office, restaurant, grocery store, library, and play school for the youngsters. Many Kibbutzniks also work outside the kibbutz in the nearby towns of Tiberias and Zemah Junction or in the industrial or agricultural complexes in the region.

There are approximately 400 people living permanently on the Kibbutz. They live in their own homes in semi-detached blocks - Many of the homes have a commanding view of the beautiful Lake Kinneret and Jordan valley. There is housing for the younger Kibbutzniks on the other side of the Kibbutz. At the age of 15 the young Kibbutznik moves into his or her own one bedroom flat. This encourages the young Kibbutznik to be independent and think for themselves. There are many parties and late nights for the young Kibbutzniks. Nearby is the volunteers quarters. Volunteer housing is generally Ok at Tel Katzir, but the volunteers' dining room could do with some renovations. Nevertheless communal living is why many volunteers go to a Kibbutz. And living together is another way to meet other volunteers who have come from all over the world.

Daily routine on the Kibbutz

Everyone has to do their fair share of work around the Kibbutz including the volunteers. The volunteers' manager Moshe and the Volunteer's volunteer leader (an elected volunteer) work out what sort of work you will be doing. Anyway, the day starts at about 6.00 a.m. for most - You work for 2 hours before everyone has breakfast in the communal dining hall at 8.00 am. You go back to work at about 8.45 am to 9.00 a.m. and then you work to at least 1.00 p.m. when the day ends for most of the people who work outside. It gets very hot at Tel Katzir - remember that Lake Kinneret area is 180 metres below sea level. Temperatures easily reach the high 30s, early 40s degrees Celsius.

In the evening the Kibbutzniks prepare their own meals and so do the volunteers. Volunteers share facilities in the volunteers' dining room which is a converted flat. Conditions are Ok - you won't starve - but the choice o the menu is limited - you can have any number of variations on egg, tomato, cucumber, cheese, milk, sometimes flour and jam, all depending on how creative you are. Pancakes and scrambled eggs are popular amongst the volunteers. Two volunteers are rostered on a rotating basis to clean up after the other volunteers.


Volunteers can be posted to the following areas for work duties.


Most of the volunteers will be sent to Bananas, especially if there is a lot of work on. Apart from carrying banana bunches (on your shoulders), you will be asked to clean pipes, drive tractors, build banana trailers, spoon and count bananas, prune banana trees, bag banana bunches or assist in preparing them and loading them onto the trucks. The banana operation is supervised by a kibbutznik and he has several assistant managers. Most bananas are either sold to markets in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Haifa. Some also go to a processing plant at nearby Zemah. The current bananot manager is Aran and his assistant is Modi.
Banana workers are taken down into the fields in the banana bus (a tractor and trailer). The day starts at about 6.00 a.m., except in summer when daylight saving begins - work starts at 5.00 a.m., breakfast is at 8.00 a.m. and lunch is at about 1.00 p.m. It is recommended you use the toilet before going to the fields and there are no facilities in the fields.

Dining Hall/ Kitchen

This involves doing all sorts of jobs in the kitchen and Dining Hall, where most of the Kibbutzniks eat breakfast and lunch. It includes helping the chef prepare food, making salads or preparing vegetables, putting the food trolleys out in the dining hall, setting the tables, washing and drying the eating utensils (as well as pots and pans). Actually, you work at the direction of any of the Kibbutzniks who work in the kitchen. This job is not much fun if you have to do it day in, day out.


Volunteers have the chance to work outside in the Kibbutz garden and grounds, making this one of the more sought after jobs - it's good for working on the tan.
The gardening day starts at about 5.00 a.m. or 6.00 a.m. depending on what work needs to be done. Sometimes it starts after 8.00 a.m. because of the work that needs to be done which is in close proximity to the Kibbutznik's residential areas.
We don't want to wake them up! Volunteers will prune trees, clip lawns, pick up rubbish and weed gardens. The chief gardener, Noam, is known to be testy and unappreciative.


A very important task, the volunteer assigned to the Construction area must have some all round skills. Apart from being `handy', this job includes the cleaning of the swimming pool and its environs. Only one volunteer is assigned to this job.


This is not a bad job with good hours. Sanding wood and making things such as shelves. The day in the Carpentry workshop starts at 7.00 a.m. and ends at 12.00 p.m. This could be a chance to pick up some carpentry skills.

Guest House

Clean after other people's shit.


Chasing ostriches.

Food at the Kibbutz

Apart form the aforementioned volunteer evening meals' the food at the Kibbutz is generally varied and nutritious. You don't need to rely on your relatives and friends back home to send you survival packages.

At breakfast the selection of healthy food - including salads, yoghurts and vegetables - is very good. And there is even unlimited coffee. Lunchtime is also good value - especially if you like chicken scnitchel, or roast or fried chicken. Unfortunately, on occasions the dining room staff feel the need to reheat the meat dishes, making it a bit tough on the people who are really hungry. But overall the food is good and you can certainly eat healthily.

There are a couple of shops on the Kibbutz where you can buy various goods including many snacks guaranteed to make you fat - including chocolates, biscuits, ice-creams, chips and soft drinks. The shop is only open one afternoon per week to the volunteers, so it's best to stock up - if you miss out then you may have to catch the bus, or worse hitchhike, to Tiberias or Zemah. The vegetable and cold stuff shop is open more regularly and you can usually get something healthy to eat there. If you are feeling peckish for something fattening they do have chocolate mousse in a tub - yummy!!!

Volunteer's Accommodation

Kibbutz accommodation for volunteers is OK. Volunteers usually share two to three to a room. Most of the rooms are presentable with cupboard space and a steel bed - the mattress is a bit thin, but you get used to it after a while. A couple of the rooms in the front section of the volunteers' quarters have no floor, rather uneven cement blocks. All the rooms have air coolers (not air-conditioning) which are needed in the summer. I wasn't there in winter, but I am advised that blankets and heaters are available if required.


Transport for volunteers on the Kibbutz is woeful.
Being about 15 kilometres from Tiberias, it makes it very hard if you want to do something different. However, there are ways and means and the resourceful volunteer will find a way - this includes hitchhiking. It's always best to have a female (preferably in the majority) when hitchhiking. Israeli men, and especially Arab men, can't seem to help themselves 'picking up' especially those poor Northern European girls. But, hitchhiking can be the best way for a volunteer to travel if you get a good lift. I can recall people stopping to take a car full of volunteers back to the Kibbutz after a hard night at the disco and then coming back to pick up the rest of us - many Israelis do go out of their way to be helpful. Some volunteers have also hitchhiked from Tel Katzir in the north to Eilat in the very south. This is a little bit dangerous because of the unstable political conditions in the centre of the country (ie in the West Bank), but if you have the luck it can be the best fun out. But at the end of the day Hitchhiking is risky and you must be careful -numerous guidebooks advise to avoid it.

Buses - Buses in Israel are not cheap, although they take you just about anywhere you want to go - except for the Golan Heights.

Busses here are terribly infrequent in the Golan Heights, which is a shame because the Golan is a beautiful area and there is a lot to see and do. Two great attractions are Nimrod's Castle and the Banyas. Hiring a car will ensure you see all the highlights in one day - but make sure you start early.

At Tel Katzir bus 22 will take you straight to Tiberias. Better still, it takes you from Tiberias straight to Tel Katzir - you don't have to walk up that big hill. This is a bonus. Volunteers are also permitted to catch the school bus which leaves Tel Katzir (on school days) at 2.55 p.m. - Don't be late - they don't wait. The bus will take you to Zemah junction where you walk four bus stops down to catch the bus that takes you into downtown Tiberias. There are shopping facilities at Zemah including a liquor shop and grocery store.

If you befriend a Kibbutznik with a car, and they are willing to drive you where and when you want to go - well, then you're laughing.

Monday night discos

This is an institution at Kibbutz Tel Katzir. Every Monday the young Kibbutzniks organise for a DJ, sound and light sow and bar for the weekly disco - and it doesn't disappoint. This is where real and lasting friendships are made. You've drunk yourself legless on cheap and nasty vodka, or gin and you are ready to spill your guts to anyone who'll listen. But your fellow volunteers won't abandon you. They will listen to your story, take off your shoes and put you to bed - the trick is to stay there!!!

Disco hit songs

Blue - Eiffel 65
Better Off Alone - Alice Deejay
Come on Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners
I come from a land Down Under - Men at Work

Historical and Tourist sites in the region

For information about what's on offer in the region consult a guidebook. I found the most useful guidebook to be the Lonely Planet, followed by Let's Go. You can also go to the Tourist Information Centre in Tiberias. It's located near visible ruins of this ancient city. Be prepared to wait some time for assistance.

What's on Offer in Tiberias

Tiberias has a McDonalds for all those fast food junkies who need to be reminded of home and need a break from the healthy food you eat at the Kibbutz - but beware prices are high.

All other mod cons and facilities are available - including grocery stores, department stores, specialty ships, chemists. There is also a internet café which is difficult to find - it's in the street on the Kinneret side of the street where the fish market is.

Don't buy souvenirs in Tiberias - you will be ripped off severely (as you are elsewhere, but not quite as much as Tiberias). Just because you look a bit like a rich American, tourist facility operators feel that they must be patronising and condescending. It's best to wait until you are at the markets in some of the bigger cities - you are likely to pay less and have the fun and experience of haggling with street store vendor (there isn't much opportunity for this in Tiberias).

If you wish to get your ear pierced or a tattoo in Tiberias you can do so. There is small shop on the second floor of the main shopping block near McDonalds. If you cannot find it just ask a local.

Text Copyright © 2000 Danny O'Brien. (thanks for writing it Danny)