Information on instances of ex-Soviet Christians of mixed marriages being forced to leave a kibbutz because of cancelled leases or an inability to cope with the communal nature of life [ISR17046.E]

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 Apr. 1994).

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.