IRB – Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (Autor)
Information on specific cases where
ex-Soviet Christians have been forced to move from a kibbutz is
currently unavailable to the DIRB. However, according to an
official of the Israel Program Centre in Ottawa, there were several
occasions when a Soviet immigrant, and his or her spouse and
family, may have been asked to leave a kibbutz if it were found
that they are unable to cope with the communal nature of life (14
The official stated that many Soviet
immigrants moved onto kibbutzim under the government's "First House
in Our Land Program." She said that the program was not designed as
a means to allow immigrants to become permanent kibbutz members,
but that it was a means of facilitating their initial settlement in
Israel. She stated that the government transferred funds to various
kibbutzim, and in return, immigrants were allowed to live on a
kibbutz for an initial six-month period. She said that immigrants
were also allowed to work part-time, send their children to school,
and study Hebrew on the kibbutz. The official stated that
immigrants had to sign a contract acknowledging that the
arrangement was temporary and that permanent membership on the
kibbutz was not implied.
The source said that immigrants could stay
for an additional six months if the kibbutz's absorption committee
and secretariat felt they were suited to communal living. She added
that couples and families are evaluated as single entities.
She said that if an immigrant wished to
become a permanent member of the kibbutz, the committee and
secretariat would decide whether to grant a six-month "visitor"
status. She said that an immigrant would be re-evaluated after this
time, and if the committee still felt the candidate had the
potential to adapt, the person would be allowed to remain on the
kibbutz for an additional 18 to 24 month probationary period.
The source stated that the committee and
secretariat meet at the end of the probationary period and put the
person's membership to a vote before the entire kibbutz. She added
that 75 per cent of the vote is required for membership. She said
that a person's ability to cope with communal life is generally not
raised once a person becomes a member.
She stated that the same rules would apply
to mixed Christian and Jewish couples. She added that it is not
always necessary, but depending on the rules of the kibbutz, the
husband may be required to convert to Judaism. The source said it
would depend on the rules of the kibbutz, but if the husband were
Jewish and the wife was Christian, the couple would generally not
be allowed to remain beyond the period prescribed under the program
unless the mother (and any children) converted.
A representative of the United Kibbutzim
Movement in Tel Aviv corroborated the above information concerning
the membership application process and that individuals can be
asked to leave after six months if found to be unable to adapt to
communal life (18 Apr. 1994) The representative also said that
persons could be asked to leave in order to make room for more
recent arrivals. She added that kibbutzim are not legally obliged
under the program to provide accommodation to immigrants or to
allow them to stay beyond the first six months.
She stated that the rules and regulations
concerning whether Christians or mixed families are eligible for
permanent membership vary from kibbutz to kibbutz. She also
stressed the fact that people who went to kibbutzim under the
program were informed beforehand that they could not expect
automatic membership or the opportunity to apply.
This response was prepared after
researching publicly accessible information currently available to
the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does
not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular
claim to refugee status or asylum.
Israel Program Centre, Ottawa. 14
April 1994. Telephone interview with official
United Kibbutzim Movement, Tel Aviv. 18
April 1994. Telephone interview with official.