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Eighth International Conference
Amana, Iowa
June 28-30, 2004

Revised and updated – January 2008

Abstract

Kibbutz Lotan is located 55 km north of Eilat in Israel’s Southern Arava desert. It was founded by graduates of the Reform Youth Movement of America and Israel in 1983. Currently (2008) the kibbutz numbers 60 adults, half from Israel and half from abroad. The average age of the adult members is 40. There are 60 children. In addition, there are 30 of residents as well as youth groups and volunteers.

Kibbutz Lotan’s affiliations indicate its special identity. The kibbutz is affiliated with the Cooperative Stream of the Kibbutz Movement, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (Reform) and the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). From the beginning, Lotan has seen its intentional communal commitment linked to Jewish cultural pioneering.

The outstanding ideological development during Lotan’s 25 years of existence has been the crystallization of a vision statement that includes a religious approach to integrating ecology within a Jewish-Zionist rationale. This has been the unique response of the Lotan community to a crisis of purpose and meaning.
The current Eco-Zionist bent of Kibbutz Lotan is part of the vision statement and part of the search for meaningful identity. “Ecology: We strive to fulfill the Biblical ideal, ‘to till the earth and preserve it’ (Genesis 2:15) in our home, our region, our country and the world. We are working to create ways to live in harmony with our desert environment”.

The collective and liberal-religious identity of Lotan were instrumental factors in responding to the crisis and integrating ecology into the Lotan vision. However, Lotan’s continued viability still faces serious challenges both economically and socially.

Download the whole paper here: eco-zionism_and_kibbutz.rtf