Moshav is a type of agricultural community in Israeli consisting of a group of individual farms. The moshav is generally based on the principle of private ownership of land, emphasis on community labor and communal marketing. Workers produce crops and goods on their properties through individual or pooled labour and resources, and use profit and foodstuffs to provide for themselves. The farmers pay an amount of tax and this money is used to provide agricultural services to the community, like buying supplies and marketing the farm produce.
The first moshav was established in the Jezreel Valley in 1921. During the period of large-scale immigration after the creation of Israel in 1948, the moshav was found to be an ideal settlement form for the new immigrants, almost none of whom were accustomed to communal living. By 1986 about 156,700 Israelis lived and worked on 448 moshavim.
Moshav Nahalal, Jezreel valley. Photo credit
There are two types of moshavim, the more common of the two are called moshav ovdim (Hebrew for “workers”). Moshav ovdim relies on cooperative purchasing of supplies and marketing of produce. The family or household is, however, the basic unit of production and consumption.
The other, less common type, is the moshav shitufi (Hebrew for “collective”). These are more similar to kibbutzim, another type of communal living, as the land is farmed collectively and the profits shared equally. The difference being that households are independent of each other and the family is the centre of the social life. Members who are employed outside the community also pay taxes. This type of moshav was first founded in 1936.
The decline of agricultural profitability in Israel have caused serious financial problems for the moshavim and kibbutzim, as has the problem of absorbing all the children who might wish to remain in the community. By the late 1980s, more and more moshav members were employed in nonagricultural sectors outside the community, so that some moshavim were coming to resemble suburban or exurban villages whose residents commute to work. In general moshavim never enjoyed the elite status accorded to kibbutzim; correspondingly they have not suffered a decline in prestige in the 1970s and 1980s.
Today, many moshavim have turned to tourism. Amirim in north of Israel deserves a special mention, as it has become a popular weekend spot for Israelis. All the families who live there are vegetarians and it has developed into a centre for vegetarian and vegan restaurants, guest houses and spas.
Moshav farm at Nahalal. Photo credit: Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Photo credit: unknown
September 11, 1921 – The first settlers arrive by horse and wagon from Mikveh Israel. Photo credit
The main square of Nahalal in the 1930s. Photo credit
Nahalal in 1979. Photo credit