ABC television's religious affairs program Compass is currently screening a series of documentaries under the heading Whatever Happened to...?
As the Compass website explains: "In this series Compass revisits radical religious and social movements in Australia's recent past, exploring their impact and legacy."
To date, they've covered the Hare Krishnas and the Charismatics. Tonight's episode, screened at 6:30 pm, is Whatever Happened to... The Kibbutzim. Here's the blurb:
"Episode 3 - The first Kibbutz was founded in Israel just over 100 years ago. A radical socialist experiment, it combined communal living and Zionist philosophy with the aim of 'making the desert bloom'. Soon there were dozens, and training farms were set up in countries like Australia to prepare young people for the physical hardship of kibbutz life where - in exchange for manual labour - volunteers were provided with food, shelter, education and medical care. In the late 60s and 70s many young Australians, Jewish and non-Jewish, went to Israel to join a kibbutz. Why did they go? How has the experience shaped their lives? And do kibbutzim still operate? Compass finds out."
With a Zionist sales pitch like that - making the desert bloom indeed! - I'm afraid it doesn't bode well. Needless to say, I'll be returning with a corrective after the screening if necessary.
But just in case you find yourself asking whether the kibbutz phenomenon isn't perhaps a tad too marginal to be part of a series on Australian religious and social movements, let me remind you that there is still at least one old bugger around who once came under the influence and has never fully recovered from the experience:
"Two weeks pass [following a hip replacement]. And I've been demoted from the Zimmer to crutches to walking stick. And while I become very attached to my tormentors (a variation on the Stockholm Syndrome), it's time to leave [Mater Hospital]. For Wolper, a Jewish hospital nearer home. If you think the Catholics are tough, you haven't been in Wolper. It's like a kibbutz during the Six-Day War. With a hint of Mississippi slave era (Tote that barge, lift that bale.) And I'm going in for 3 days a week for months." (I'm in the hip crowd, Phillip Adams, The Weekend Australian Magazine, 20/7/13)