Shavuot Celebration, Kibbutz Hazorea, 1953
This is a photograph from the NLI collections taken in 1953. The photograph depicts two young men standing on a cart decorated with plants, fruits, and vegetables and carrying an oversized model bunch of grapes in a Bikkurim, First Fruits ceremony on the kibbutz. The wheels of the cart are also decorated with plants, representing the abundance of produce grown in Israel. The two men standing on top of the cart are dressed in striped shorts that are bound by a sash and are bare-chested. Their pose with the oversized bunch of grapes is reminiscent of the 12 spies who surveilled the Land of Israel before the Jews entered for the first time. It is believed that the fruit at the time were so big that two men had to carry one bunch of grapes. The large fruit and the spies’ negative reports demoralised the Israelites, and the spies were punished by being barred from entering the Land of Israel. In the background of the photograph there are also men in white shirts and hats.
Would You Like to Know More?
Bikkurim - One of the names of Shavuot in the Torah is the festival of the first fruits. These first fruits are traditionally of the “seven species” that were special agricultural products of the Land of Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates (Deuteronomy 8:8). According to Jewish tradition, the first fruits, Bikkurim, were brought to the priests in the Temple in Jerusalem, as described in the Torah: “The first, the crowns of your land, you shall come, the house of the Lord your God” (Exodus 26:26).
Bikkurim Celebrations in modern Israel - The early settlements in modern Israel transformed the traditional Bikkurim ceremony into a secular agricultural celebration – first fruit ceremonies to rejoice the end of the harvest festival (another term for Shavuot). The first fruits in the kibbutzim, in contrast to the time of the Temple, are not only the seven species but all kinds of fruits, vegetables, livestock, and even the babies born in the past year. The ceremonies feature colourful performances of songs and dances and processions of decorated agricultural tools and machinery, farm produce, and young children.
Kibbutz HaZorea - This photo was taken on Kibbutz Hazorea, located in the west of the Jezreel Valley. The kibbutz was established in 1936 by German Jews belonging to the Werkleute youth movement. Werkleute was a socialist youth movement that later, in 1938, joined the Hashomer Hatzair movement. Hazorea is undergoing changes from the model of the traditional kibbutz. While it is still a collective society, changes have been made to allow more individulatistic ways of live such as privatisation of certain services. Kibbutz Hazorea is currently the home to various volunteer programs including Garin Tzabar (a program for lone soldiers from abroad), and the Wilfrid Israel Museum.
Symbol of the Cluster of Grapes - The picture of two people holding a large cluster of grapes has become a well-known symbol of Israel and is also the symbol of both the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and the Carmel Winery.
Jewish Studies teachers can use this photograph when exploring the idea and customs of bikkurim on Shavuot.
Bible teachers can use this photograph when teaching about the story of the twelve spies in the book of Bamidbar and what they are believed to have brought back with them from visiting the Land of Israel.
Israel Studies lessons can use this photograph when learning about the kibbutz movement, its agricultural history, and Shavuot celebrations.
What is being carried?
Where and when was this photograph taken?
What are the men carrying the grapes wearing?
What are they standing on?
What is the cart decorated with?
Reading Between the Lines
Why is the cart decorated with agricultural produce?
At which time of year do you think this photograph was taken? Explain your answer.
In Temple times, this cart would have been taken to Jerusalem.
What was this event called?
Why were fruits taken to the Temple, and what was done there?
This picture was taken in 1953. What are these men doing with the produce?
Why do you think secular kibbutzim connected to an ancient religious ritual? Were they connecting to the religious aspect or to another aspect?
The image of the two men carrying the fruit is iconic. Where is this image taken from? Where else is it used today?
is sometimes practiced in different synagogues around the world on Shavuot.
Have you ever participated in it?
If so, recount what you did and what happened
Why do think Bikkurim is practiced in Synagogues today?
Have you ever been to a kibbutz?
If so, which kibbutz? Describe your experience there.
If not, research what makes a kibbutz unique and write a paragraph about it.
Decorate a basket for a event. Include explanations about your chosen decorations and fruits.
Create a flyer advertising Shavuot or celebrations on Kibbutz Hazorea. Include the time and date and the main attractions of the event.