We Were The Future: A Memoir of the Kibbutz

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Yael Neeman grew up on a kibbutz, a traditionally agricultural Israeli community. Far from city trappings, her childhood and adolescence are evoked in a graceful, non-political account of living collectively, the child’s world almost wholly detached from that of the adults. She and the others in her group of eight boys and eight girls had only a brief daily visit with their biological parents and instead saw mostly their caregiver and teacher, the nightly story-time reader, and the members toiling countless hours in the fields, transforming the desert into fruitful land.

Born in 1960, as the kibbutz movement crept to the edge of its viability, Neeman, now a successful author, tells how the young were oblivious to fear living in “occupied territory” surrounded by Holocaust survivors. With no helicopter parents hovering over them, the children were schooled in interdisciplinary subjects without a conventional classroom, and they slept, bathed, ate, and played together. Her pages recall escapades and adventures, an unquenchable longing for candy, and occasional sorties to Tel Aviv.

As teenagers, the children held onto a group environment, step by step coping with adolescence, sex, and cigarettes, developing hands-on experience as the crops were developed to sustain the collective.

Writing always as “we” rather than “I” adds a poignancy, mindful of a youth more akin to Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline than the stricter childhood of less-forgiving cultures. The memoir’s eloquent, almost lyrical, tone will draw young readers as well as their elders.


Reviewed By:

Author Yael Neeman • Sondra Silverston, Translator
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 256 pages
Publisher The Overlook Press
Publish Date 2016-Oct-25
ISBN 9781468313567
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue January 2017
Category Biographies & Memoirs
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