Israel is a multifaceted nation globally recognised for its technological advancements and entrepreneurial spirit. Yet, it’s the profound sense of community support and cooperation in Israeli culture that often goes underreported. This isn’t just a happy accident or a byproduct of a small nation’s necessities; it’s an ethos deeply embedded in the fabric of Israeli society. In this article, we’ll delve into this in detail, journeying from the historical kibbutz communities to modern philanthropic initiatives and socially conscious business practices.
The Kibbutz: A Historical Legacy of Community Living
The concept of a kibbutz, or communal settlement, is deeply rooted in Israeli history. Conceived in the early 20th century, these unique communities were formed on principles of collective labour, egalitarian living, and mutual aid. Everything from farming to child-rearing was a communal responsibility. Kibbutz Sde Boker, where Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion chose to reside, stands as a testament to the enduring values of these settlements. It embodies the pioneering spirit that transformed barren deserts into thriving communities.
Another example is Kibbutz Ein Gedi, situated by the Dead Sea, which combines traditional agricultural practices with cutting-edge research in botany. These kibbutzim not only present a unique socio-economic model but also symbolise the epitome of community-driven sustainability.
Adopt a Family and Modern-Day Community Initiatives
In our modern, fast-paced world, the Israeli spirit of mutual aid has morphed into various new forms. “Adopt a Family” is a pioneering initiative where donors can support underprivileged families by providing them monthly financial assistance. This direct philanthropy removes the anonymity from charity, creating lasting bonds between the donor and the recipients.
Another noteworthy programme is “Pitchon Lev,” dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by providing educational and employment opportunities. These programmes ensure that mutual aid isn’t just a historical concept but a living, breathing part of Israeli culture today.
Tech for Good: Innovation Meets Social Responsibility
Israel’s high-tech sector isn’t just about profit margins or market shares; it’s also about giving back to the community. OrCam‘s artificial vision technology, for example, empowers visually impaired individuals to read text and recognise faces. Similarly, SolarEdge’s solar energy solutions are not just geared towards environmental sustainability, but they also aim to make renewable energy affordable and accessible for all.
Companies like Waze, the community-driven GPS software, originated in Israel, showing how technology can be harnessed to build communities and make everyday life more accessible for people.
Diverse Communities: Unity in Diversity
Israel’s population is an amalgam of ethnicities, religions, and cultures. But what unites them is a sense of community that transcends differences. Initiatives like “Hand in Hand,” an education programme where Jewish and Arab children learn together, are proof of this. Community kitchens that serve the underprivileged, irrespective of their ethnic background, also embody this sense of universal cooperation.
In multi-ethnic cities like Haifa, community centres and neighbourhood councils work towards fostering unity among its diverse residents, proving that social cohesion can exist amidst diversity.
Psychological Support: Healing Together
In a country that has faced its fair share of conflicts and crises, mental health support often becomes a community effort. Organisations like Natal Israel’s Trauma and Resiliency Centre offer extensive community-based support, including group therapy sessions and community outreach programmes. Another programme, Eran, offers emotional first aid services to people in crisis situations. These platforms don’t just provide immediate relief; they build long-term resilience and a sense of collective healing.
Business Community: People Over Profit
In the Israeli commercial sector, the emphasis often leans towards a ‘people-first’ approach, reflecting the broader cultural ethos of community and mutual aid. This is not merely a tagline but a business model that has proven to be both humane and profitable.
Moovit: Navigating Work-Life Balance
For instance, Moovit, a public transportation app, stands out for its employee-friendly policies. The company strongly focuses on work-life balance, ensuring that its team members are not just productive but also content and well-rounded individuals.
Monday.com: Prioritising Employee Well-being
Another example is Monday.com, a work operating system that powers teams to run projects and workflows with confidence. During times of crisis, the company’s first priority has been supporting employees’ mental and physical health, as stated by their Chief People and Legal Officer, Shiran Nawi. This approach not only fosters a supportive work environment but also contributes to the overall productivity and success of the company.
Family-Centric Work Culture
The Israeli work environment often resembles a family setting, where the well-being of each member is considered paramount. This is not just about offering perks and benefits but about creating a culture where employees feel valued and cared for. Family is not just an essential aspect of Israeli culture but also a cornerstone of its business community.
Safety and Support During Crisis
In times of geopolitical instability, Israeli companies go to great lengths to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees. Whether it’s offering mental health support or flexible work arrangements, the focus remains on the individual’s well-being. This is not just a ‘nice-to-have’ but a ‘must-have’ in the Israeli business ethos.
A Beacon of Community Spirit
In a global landscape increasingly dominated by divisive rhetoric and social fragmentation, Israel stands out as a shining example of how community support and cooperation can sustain a nation. The Israeli spirit of mutual aid has continually adapted to meet new challenges and opportunities.
As we strive to navigate an increasingly complex world, the Israeli approach to community support offers us solace and a template for action. Let this exploration into Israeli culture serve as a call to action. A better world isn’t something that happens to us; it’s something we create together. In embracing the essence of community support and cooperation, we take a vital step towards a better world.
- Elliot Kibbutz by Amite via Canva
- Arab and Jewish Children playing together courtesy of Hand in Hand website
- Featured image of Jerusalem by Hausener via Canva