Ravid Brosh and Noa Tzur-Brosh woke up one morning in their peaceful suburban home in Rockville, Md., and found that after a long period of discussion, both had reached the same decision: to return to the kibbutz.
Not that life was bad — the couple had relocated to the United States from Israel five years earlier, and they were about to receive the much-coveted green card that would allow them to stay as permanent residents. He had a well-paying job, and she was studying photography. Both their children spoke English fluently; their daughter, Romy, excelled in a public school, their son, Ivri, in a Jewish kindergarten. They had a comfortable life, according to Tzur-Brosh.
But by 2008 they felt that the best place for them and for their children was Hatzor, the kibbutz where Tzur-Brosh, now 41, was born and raised.
(This reporter was raised there, too.)
The Brosh family’s personal decision is part of a wider trend. After years of decline or stagnation, the population of kibbutzim is now on the rise. In 2001 there were about 115,700 residents in 268 kibbutzim in Israel, according to the government’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Today there are 155,455 people living in kibbutzim. Seventy-five percent of this population growth has occurred since 2008.
Hatzor, which is located one hour south of Tel Aviv, near the coastal city of Ashdod, has gone from 280 kibbutz members a decade ago to 343 members today. Dozens more are waiting for their chance to apply for membership, which will come after more houses are added. Forty-four new family homes are currently being built on what used to be agricultural land.
Most of the new members are people who grew up in the kibbutz, left it in their early 20s and returned with spouses and children. The surge of returnees has had a significant impact on the average age of the Hatzor demographic. In 2004, only 7% of members were younger than 50. Today, 35% are.