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Australia’s home-grown kibbutz, just out Melbourne

Nomi Kaltmann
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PLUS61J 53 (3)

Published: 24 December 2021

Last updated: 4 March 2024

NOMI KALTMANN: Australia’s Hachshara ‘Hebrew Training Farm’ prepared a generation of young Zionists for life in Israel

THE KIBBUTZ MOVEMENT was founded in 1909, combining Europe’s growing socialist movement with the new and exciting ideology of Zionism, billing itself as a new way of Jewish living. 

The movement spread like wildfire, with thousands of young people from around the world moving to British Mandate Palestine to create kibbutzim, where people pooled their resources to overcome the hurdles facing new agricultural towns in the future Jewish homeland.

Meanwhile, halfway across the world, a copycat community was created to foster Zionist spirit among young Jews and encourage immigration to Israel.

From 1945-67 an Australian kibbutz was in operation, officially known as the “Hebrew Training Farm” but more commonly referred to as “Hachshara.” Located in Toolamba, a small farming community about 160km north of Melbourne, the kibbutz was owned by the Zionist Federation of Australia and was operated by idealistic Jewish youth movement leaders of the Australian branches of Habonim and Hashomer HaTzair.

On Hachshara, young Aussies spent a year or two learning Hebrew and agricultural skills with the aim of inspiring socialist Zionists to take the plunge and move to Israel.

For 22 years, this orchard and property would serve as the pinnacle of Zionist activity among Australians and New Zealanders, the vast majority of whom ended up settling in the new State of Israel.

Selina and Jack Beris, an Australian Israeli couple married for 62 years, now in their 80s, were both members of the Habonim youth movement in Australia. After spending time on Hachshara, they moved to Israel in 1961.

FULL STORY The Kibbutz down under (Tablet)

Photo: Habonim camps in Melbourne and Sydney, late 1940s (Courtesy Elie Lederman/Facebook)

About the author

Nomi Kaltmann

Nomi Kaltmann is a Melbourne lawyer who writes regularly on Jewish life and culture. Nomi is also the founder and inaugural president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance Australia (JOFA).

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