It isn’t every day that visitors have the opportunity to visit a Kibbutz that kept the original nature of a Kibbutz and some of its cooperative facilities to this day.
The old Kibbutz of Kfar Masaryk opens its gates to visitors, offering a unique experience that includes traveling the Kibbutz pathways, a visit to the founders’ court, a trip to the Na’aman River and lunch at the Kibbutz’s dining hall.
Kfar Masaryk was founded in 1933 by a group of the Shomer Hatzair movement youth who immigrated from Czechoslovakia and Lithuania.
The Kibbutz currently numbers about 400 members, it is privatized but still maintains its Kibbutz atmosphere including joint celebration of holidays such as the Passover Seder and bringing the offering of first fruits on Shavuot, and shared facilities such as the dining hall and the laundry facility.
A tour along the Kibbutz’s pathways allows visitors a magical taste of what once was traditional Kibbutz life. The tour takes visitors through several routes designed to get them acquainted with the founders’ court, the first farmyard around which the Kibbutz’s first residents built their houses.
In the yard visitors can see Kfar Masaryk’s famous water tower, decorated with ceramic tiles that were attached to it during the Kibbutz’s jubilee celebrations, bearing Kibbutz members’congratulations to their Kibbutz on this festive occasion.
In the yard visitors may also see a building made of red bricks manufactured at the local reputable Na’aman factory. Inside the long structure one can find the Kibbutz’s original cobbler’s workshop that worked from its very beginning up until 15 years ago. In the cobbler’s workshop, still carrying Stalin’s image on one of its walls, one can see old style shoes and sandals and the tools of trade of the cobbler who once made shoes and sandals for Kibbutz members, fitting each child and member with one pair of sandals in summer and one pair of shoes in winter custom made to fit their specific measurements. One can only imagine the many times each one of these shoes and sandals had to be repaired.
Another interesting finding is the neatly organized index file holding written details of each member’s name, shoe size and the date he last received a pair of shoes.
Another room in the brick building is dedicated to Ascar – the paint factory that later on became Tambur. The room does not only commemorate the successful factory, but also represents one of the Kibbutz’s dramatic moments, when it parted with the factory due to the ideology forbidding the employment of people from outside the Kibbutz in Kibbutz operated facilities.
An interesting exhibition in that same room commemorates the mythological Na’aman factory with the initial ceramic ware it manufactured; kitchenware and serving vessels that were once household name in every Israeli home.
Opposite the red brick building visitors can see the founders’ first cabin built in 1938. The cabin displays an interesting collection of household utensils and furniture and commemorates the lives of the Kibbutz’s first settlers from the 1940’s to the 1950’s.
Yet another route takes visitors to the Munio gallery for Israeli art, named after architect Gitai Munio who designed the dining hall, the gallery and the inner courtyard in 1965.
The gallery was renovated at the initiative of his son, cinema director Amos Gitai, and holds between 4-5 alternating exhibitions a year on environmental and society issues.
The Kibbutz’s dining hall serves breakfast and lunch and is open for visitors at affordable prices: breakfast for NIS 25 per person, lunch for NIS 35 per person.
Another trail is the singing walls trail that takes participants on a guided tour along the Kibbutz’s pathways observing public Kibbutz buildings on which poets’ songs are inscribed; pausing opposite each of these buildings to sing along with the guide’s tape recorder.
The laundry room – Kfar Masaryk’s laundry room is a relic of the times of old and works in the same exact way; during the tour one can watch the laundry operation, separation, folding and distribution into members’ individual compartments according to the number embroidered on each garment.
The Visitors Center – holds alternating exhibitions as well as a permeant display called “touches of time” unfolding the issue of culture and folklore at the Kibbutz throughout the years, and displaying photos of images and events in Kibbutz life in the past and the present.
The Visitors Center also offers films documenting various periods in the Kibbutz.
The Na’aman River trail – an enchanting hike on foot, suitable for all family members, takes visitors to the flawing Na’aman River, an observation point from the fishermen’s hill to the fishponds and the scenic view, a hike along the river bank to the blue dome offering hikers a meeting place and a point of observation on birds nesting in the Kibbutz’s fields and the vicinity, amongst them: kites, cormorants, white and black storks, coots, ducks, herons, kingfishers and other water birds.