Economy and Society

The kibbutz economy in the early years was based primarily on agriculture: flocks of sheep, herds of cows, orchards, orange groves and field crops. Ein Shemer member Abba Stein developed the Anna and the Ein Shemer, two species of apples now grown in various places in the world, as well as other species of apples and plums. Another member, Moshe Grossman, was one of the founders of Granot, an agricultural co-operative that has since become a major economical force in the Israeli agricultural market. Beginning in the 1970’s the agricultural branches of the kibbutz were reduced in size and now include cotton and other field crops, avocado groves and cowsheds. Industrial and commercial branches were established and gained prominence in the kibbutz economy. A rubber factory, Ein Shemer Rubber Industries and a plastics factory, Miniplast Ein Shemer, were set up on the kibbutz in 1968 and 1976 respectively, and a small shopping center for the general public was established at Karkur intersection nearby. Other sources of kibbutz income are from members who work outside the kibbutz, as well as personal initiatives such as the artistic blacksmith’s forge, ecological greenhouse, film production company, event planning company, architect’s office, center for holistic treatments and others.

In the mid 1980’s Ein Shemer, together with much of the kibbutz movement, underwent a severe economic downturn as a result of the monetary policy of the new right-wing Israeli government. At the end of the 1990’s the kibbutz emerged from the crisis after signing an agreement among the kibbutz, the banks and the Israeli Land Administration.

At about the same time as the economic crisis, the kibbutz underwent a social transformation, as the center of social life went from the collective to the family unit. In the 1980’s the children, who had slept in children’s houses since the kibbutz was founded, began sleeping in their parents’ homes. During the 1990’s many items of consumption were privatized and the members’ personal budget was enlarged as the communal budget decreased in scope. Since about the year 2000, an ongoing discussion has been raging concerning possible future distribution of differential salaries to the members – an issue that has not yet been decided upon as of 2010.