Commentary Magazine

Child-Rearing in the Kibbutz

To the Editor:

I would like to tell you that the recent issues of COMMENTARY have been superb. Bruno Bettelheim’s article in the February issue, “Does Communal Education Work?—The Case of the Kibbutz,” is required reading for all my students in The Family course.

Erich Rosenthal
Queens College
Flushing, New York



To the Editor:

. . . It is regrettable that Professor Bettelheim allowed himself to become so emotional in his evaluation which is based exclusively on reports of others and not at all on his personal observations.

I talked with many in Israel about child-rearing and did not find unanimity even among kibbutzniks. It is true that within the kibbutz there is nowhere the extent of maladjustment and delinquency we know in our country. And yet I found kibbutzim using the services of social caseworkers. . . . One social worker told me that the children in the kibbutzim are affected by the problems between parents, as we could expect. This is particularly true where conflict arises over leaving the kibbutz. One parent wishes to remain and the other prefers to leave, and the children reflect this conflict in spite of the fact that they live among and with their peers.

It is very interesting to note that parents are becoming dissatisfied with communal houses and are voting increasingly to have their children with them at night. . . .

The conclusions are not as simple as those posed by Professor Bettelheim. Many adults and children leave the kibbutzim and many return. The lure of the city operates there, as here, although not as powerfully. What will this mean ten years hence? I agree with Professor Bettelheim that we might well emulate the seriousness with which the kibbutzim concern themselves in regard to the education of their children.

Jeannette G. Glassberg
Arlington, Virginia



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