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Jews Solve Gift Problem in Palestine, NY Sun, Nov. 23, 1947.

Kfar GiladiBy PHILIP POTTER [Sun Staff Correspondent]

Kfar Giladi, Palestine, Nov. 22-Gifts from American relatives are not an unmixed blessing to the members of the Kfar Giladi Kibbutz, or communal farm, one of more than a hundred such Jewish agricultural settlements in Palestine.

Heshel Kremetzky, Russian-born Jew, who spent his childhood in the United States and stayed in Palestine after coming over as a tourist twenty years ago, said the member-ship had only recently solved a problem caused by such gifts that had perplexed the kibbutz for months.

It seems that about half the 150 families had received radios from relatives. Since the practice at the communal farm is that each family has the same living quarters, the same furniture and the same amount of clothing as any other family, what to do about the gift radios was an all-absorbing topic of discussion.

Envious Of Neighbors

Those who had none were envious of their neighbors. The latter were half ashamed to turn on the radio and enjoy a broadcast.

“Finally,” said Kremetzky, “some one who had a radio came up with a scheme on which we all agreed. We had put aside sufficient money so that every family could have a one-week vacation in Tel Aviv or some other city, as a holiday from life on the kibbutz.

“We decided to take this money and buy radios for those who had none. It will call for equal sacrifice from the havens and have-nots. We’ll still have our week’s vacation from farm duties, but we’ll have to spend it at home.”
Share Room In Barracks

Kremetzky and his wife share a room in a barracks, while their three children, like those of other kibbutz members, are placed in a communal children’s home, in charge of a teacher, who takes on many of the parental duties.

“We all want homes of our own.” Kremetzky said, “but we see no possibility of having them for another 50 or 60 years. Our kibbutz has been long established and it’s fairly prosperous now, but our first obligation is to take care of the displaced persons who are coming from Europe.”

When the Kfar Giladi kibbutz was established twenty years ago its members lived in tents. Meals more often than not consisted of two pieces of bread and a cucumber. Cigarettes were rationed to five a day.

One Room To Each Couple

The tents gave way to wooden huts and eventually to the longbow concrete barracks, divided into single rooms, one to each couple. Meals still cooked in a communal kitchen and eaten in a communal dining hall, are hearty and whole-some.

There are plenty of cigarettes, although the elected head of one kibbutz told me, jokingly, when I offered him an American cigarette- “I’m not one of the criminals. Cigarettes cost us 2,000 Palestinian pounds a year, which could be put to much better use.”

“For months in those early years,” Kremetzky said, “we saw no cinema or show. We had in the entire kibbutz one decent man’s suit. When any one of us men had to go to town, he got that suit out of the storeroom and wore it, altering to fit. The next man had to realter it.

“We Eat Well”

“Now we’ve got money enough to see moving pictures once a week. We allow ourselves three or four nice presents a year. We eat well, and we have nice quarters.”

The kibbutz pioneers, however, seem quit willing to share what they’ve toiled for years to produce with newly arrived Jewish immigrants from Europe. At Kfar Giladi the membership voted that all such persons admitted on probation be given choice living quarters. This sometimes means that for a time a veteran couple must move out of the concrete barracks into an old wooden one to make room for a newcomer.

“After a year’s probation,” Kremetzky said, “the newcomer may be admitted as a member by two thirds vote. Once in he has the same rights as a member of twenty years standing, like myself.”

He said 28 new members had been accepted this year, only three probationers having failed to get the required vote.
Disobeyed Rules

“They had disobeyed the rules and insisted on keeping private property,” Kremetzky said.

Not even children are permitted to break the rules on that score. If a toy comes as a gift from a relative, it must be turned into the pool. The recipient then may draw it out and keep it a week.

Kremetzky similarly gave up a new blue serge suit sent him by a sister living in the United States. “Someone whose job takes him into the city needs it more than I,” he said.

He did manage, however, to have his own way on the matter of books. A former bookseller in the United States, he likes to read.

20,000 Books In Library

“It took me quite a while to convince the membership to let some of us buy books,” he said, “but now we’ve got 20,000 good ones in the kibbutz library.

“In addition, we’ve decided that everyone may have a limited number of books of his own. Each member gets one a year. If, in addition I get one sent to me as a gift, I have to record it in the library as available, but I can keep it in my room until someone calls for it.”

Kremetzky doesn’t feel that family life at the kibbutz is much different than “anywhere else,” although the children sleep apart from the parents.

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