HA-KIBBUTZ HA-DATI , a union of 16 religious kibbutzim in Israel, established in 1935 by members of *Ha-Po'el ha-Mizrachi. It combines religious practice with collective life and labor and exerted a political influence in the *National Religious Party by strengthening its left-wing faction, "La-Mifneh." The movement saw itself as a bridge between religious and secular people in Israel, and initiated projects to enhance understanding between these two groups. Eleven of the kibbutzim were founded before the establishment of the State of Israel, of which five were destroyed during the War of Independence (those of the *Eẓyon Bloc were overrun and destroyed by Arab forces) and were reestablished later. Three other kibbutzim became moshavim shittufiyyim, and left the movement, while eight additional kibbutzim were founded after 1948. Many of the religious kibbutzim are located in dangerous border areas, in settlements clusters aimed to assist one another. The founders of the kibbutzim were mainly Europeans, while over the years Bnei Akiva graduates from Israel and abroad joined them. In 1970 Ha-Kibbutz ha-Dati comprised 13 settlements with a population of about 4,000, while in 2004 it included 16 kibbutzim with a population of 8,000. The kibbutzim of Ha-Kibbutz Ha-dati base their economy on agriculture, industry, and tourism. The organizational structure of the movement is based on a council with 100 representatives from all the kibbutzim. The council, as the highest institution of the movement, meets every few years to discuss important issues. It appoints a secretariat with authority to make decisions between the council meetings. The secretariat, composed of 35 members, meets a few times a year. Day-today affairs are in the hands of an executive committee under a secretary-general chosen every four years.
For further details see *Kibbutz Movement, Ha-Kibbutz ha-Dati.
[Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]