Neot Semadar - First Days

26 min. documentary

In 1989, 130 men, women and children left behind the comfortable city life in order to create a new Kibbutz - Neot Semadar - in Israel's Negev desert. Neot Semadar members took upon themselves to explore problems of human suffering, alienation, prejudice and lack of creativity. By living and working communally, each member turns the philosophic question of how one relates to his/her surroundings into daily personal and relevant questions.  Screened on Israel Channel 2, 1990.

The establishment of the new Kibbutz came after years of self-investigation and research. From the beginning, members of the group would meet for both discussion and communal projects. The need to apply their interests to practical action became clear in the process of meeting the obstacles that get in the way of learning what cooperation truly means. In the course of their activities, they discovered that what was really necessary was a radical change in the way the individual perceives himself and the world around him, and that for this transformation to occur, there must be some fundamental change in one’s way of life.

It is through special projects that their common interest in forming this learning community is truly expressed. A challenge to one’s preconceived notions and fixed habits, these projects foster a conducive environment for self-observation and provide the community with an opportunity to experience the joy of being together.

These projects spread out to all aspects of life, and many have become a source of steady income. For example, along with the cultivation of the more traditional crops of the area, such as dates and citrus fruits, they have developed bio-organic agriculture which includes vineyards, olive groves, fruit orchards, vegetable gardens and grazing fields, as well as a goat farm.

Members of Neot Semadar have a special interest in the field of education and have opened an elementary school for grades 1-8, as well as a nursery, kindergarten and pre-school. The school operates with an understanding that true learning can only take place within a fabric of relationships that are based on mutual respect and caring attention to each individual, and not on authority, conformity, competition or any kind of fear. Creativity is emphasized in their studies, which include drama, arts & crafts, music, writing and movement along with the traditional curriculum. The small classes allow children of different ages to learn, eat and play together. The intensity and intimacy which children and adults share as part of their everyday interactions here is an ongoing opportunity for all of us to understand what it means to take individual responsibility in our relationships.

At Neot Semadar the members live alongside one another as co-learners, attempting to understand themselves as individuals in a dynamic community.

This film documents the first weeks of this unique community, giving the viewer an insight into its members' visions, hopes and dreams.


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