|Founded by||American immigrants|
Ketura (Hebrew: קְטוּרָה) is a kibbutz north of Eilat in the Arabah rift valley. It derives its the name from a nearby hill, and it is the name of the second wife of Abraham (Genesis 25:1). It has approximately 130 members and 150 children (including adult offspring). About one third of the members are native Israelis, with the rest coming from the United States, Canada, Britain, South Africa, Australia, Spain, France, Latin America, Switzerland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the former Soviet Union.
Ketura was founded in November 1973 by a group of young Americans, most of whom had graduated the Young Judaea Year Course in Israel program within the previous decade. Difficulties in the early years frustrated many of the inhabitants of the kibbutz, which caused many of the founders to leave rather soon. At the same time, more Young Judaeans joined the community, along with a variety of other immigrants as well as Israeli Scout movement graduates, and it grew. This growth resulted in a more stable lifestyle for its inhabitants.
Ketura is unique among kibbutzim for its religious pluralism. Although the Kibbutz is not considered a religious kibbutz, Kashrut and Shabbat are observed in the dining room, public areas, and at social and cultural events, and there is a functioning synagogue. However, individual members are free to practice or ignore religious traditions in their homes as they see fit. The population of the kibbutz is composed of observant, masorati, and secular members—an unusual situation for an Israeli kibbutz. Ketura received the Speaker of the Knesset Prize for religious tolerance as a result of its religious progressiveness.
Agricultural enterprises of the kibbutz include a date orchard and a dairy herd. The kibbutz has a large cow shed for milk production, but it is most famous for its guest house and educational center—Keren Kolot—and its Algae plant. The algae plant (Algatech) processes haematococcus algae through a filtration system in order to extract natural astaxanthin. The extract is then sold around the world as a natural high-quality ingredient for fish food; as a natural pigment for use in cosmetics; and as a nutraceutical.
There is cooperation with other kibbutzim in the area in additional pursuits such as the regional date-packing plant and Ardag, a large fish hatchery near Eilat. Ketura also operates a carpentry shop. Many members do, however, work outside the kibbutz in professional fields such as teaching, accounting, and bookkeeping.
Ketura is part of the Green Kibbutz movement. It has pioneered many new ecologically sounder practices and adopted more common environmentally friendly habits.
The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES), is also located there. The institute promotes regional cooperation between Israelis, Palestinians, and residents of other neighboring Arab countries in environmental matters. It also researches and draws attention to some of the ecological problems in the region and researches the desert ecosystem.
The only surviving example of the Judean Date Palm, artificially germinated from 2,000-year-old seeds, was planted in Ketura and continues to survive there.
- Official website
- The Kibbutz Program Center
- Hadassah Medical Organization
- Official website of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies
- Web site of Algatech, plant for production of natural astaxanthin.
- Ardag, Ltd. - mariculture.
- Account of a trip to Ketura
- Report of a trip to many kibbutzim in the area including Ketura
- Pictures of Ketura