Question: Who is eligible to join the Kibbutz Ulpan program?
Anyone between the ages of 18 and 28 who is in good health. (A medical exam is required as part of the registration process.) They can be single or married. People with children are not eligible.
Question: How much does the program cost?
For New Immigrants:
The program fee is 1,300 NIS not including the deposit of 500 NIS.
Question: I want to experience the REAL Israel. Can I find it on a kibbutz?
Although less than 3% of the Israeli population live on kibbutzim, the communal society of the kibbutz is a uniquely Israeli phenomenon and the kibbutznik symbolizes Israel in the eyes of the world. However, in searching for the "real" Israel, you should keep in mind that the land of Israel is composed of many subcultures, each of which have a valid claim to being the "real" Israel. The kibbutz is one of these subcultures.
Question: What does the kibbutz provide the ulpanists?
The kibbutz provides the ulpanists with room and board, sheets, blankets, and pillows. Most of the kibbutzim are going through changes. Laundry and dining services are provided at some kibbutzim, where the dinning hall has no charges, while at others you will receive coupons for food. At some kibbutzim laundry services might be for an extra charge (kibbutz members have to pay for these services as well).
Question: What kind of living accommodations is provided for the ulpanists?
Ulpanists share rooms (2 to 4 people per room) with adjacent toilet and shower facilities. Closet space and desks will be shared with roommates.
Question: How is the day divided up between work and study?
That depends on the ulpan. On some kibbutzim, ulpanists work 3 days a week and study 3 days a week. On others, ulpanists work half a day and study half a day.
Question: I heard that Kibbutz Ulpanim are for people who don't know any Hebrew at all. I know some Hebrew though I'm not fluent by any means. Can I still go to Kibbutz Ulpan?
Most Kibbutz ulpanim have classes for both beginners and advanced beginners (kitot “aleph” and “bet”). Some offer intermediate level ulpans, and there are a few that even offer ulpanim for more advanced levels.
Question: Do kibbutz ulpanim teach anything other than Hebrew?
Every ulpan offers seminars on current Israeli events, Zionism, and Judaism. Some of the seminars may be held on the kibbutz itself.
Question: What kind of work will I be expected to do on the kibbutz?
Ulpanists can be assigned to any type of work to be done on the kibbutz, but they generally gravitate towards agricultural work, kitchen duty, work with children, laundry or untrained factory work.
Question: Can I choose which kind of work I do?
You can ask for a certain type of work or not to be given a certain type of work, but you may not get what you ask for. Keep in mind that the metapelet (ulpan coordinator on the kibbutz) will try to rotate the work assignment, so everybody gets a chance to try everything.
Question: Are all kibbutzim alike?
Not exactly. There is a kibbutz lifestyle and ideology which binds all the kibbutzim together but individual kibbutzim can differ from each other in their size, location, degree of communalization, financial well being, the age and origin of their members, and their industry and agriculture.
Question: Is there a kibbutz ulpan on every kibbutz.
No. There are about 14 kibbutzim with ulpanim. These kibbutzim are located all over Israel and represent all three kibbutz movements.
Question: How long does a kibbutz ulpan last?
Question: When does the kibbutz ulpan start?
Ulpanim start at different times throughout the year.
Question: Can I choose which kibbutz I want to go to?
Yes, but your choice is limited to those kibbutzim that are starting an ulpan at the time you want to join the program. You might want to consider timing your trip to Israel to coincide with when the kibbutz of your choice starts its ulpan.
Question: What do I do with my valuables while I'm on the kibbutz?
You may wish to insure anything that is especially valuable. However, it is advisable not to bring valuables.
Question: What about free time?
The kibbutz will take you on excursion trips to sites in various parts of Israel. You will also have one long weekend once a month free to do some travelling on your own. You will find yourself with plenty of spare time on your hands on the kibbutz as the activities that normally eat away at your free time (i.e. cooking, cleaning, laundry) is taken care of by the kibbutz. Kibbutzim usually have pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, clubhouse/recreation rooms with TVs, and other activities.
Question: Do kibbutzim have a dress or behavioral code that they expect ulpanists to adhere to?
Much has been written about how a kibbutz is a social experiment or an economic unit. What tends to be forgotten is that a kibbutz is first and foremost the home of the people living there, the kibbutzniks. Therefore, it is expected that ulpanists will behave and dress in an appropriate manner. You definitely should not have any hesitation about asking your kibbutz supervisor if you have any questions about what is acceptable or unacceptable dress and/or behavior on your kibbutz. Better to ask first than be embarrassed later.
Question: Can I go to ulpan on a religious kibbutz if I'm not religious?
Yes. Religious kibbutzim just ask that the volunteers or ulpanists respect the religious practices of the kibbutz (i.e. keep kosher, Shabbat), while they are on the kibbutz.
Question: What if I can participate in a kibbutz ulpan only in the summer?
You may join the short Summer Kibbutz Ulpan: This 5-6-week program combines the challenge of living and working no a kibbutz with the opportunity of learning Hebrew for credit and touring throughout Israel (including hikes and museum visits).
Last updated: August 9, 2010