||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (January 2015)|
|Region||Arava also known as Arabah|
|Affiliation||Kibbutz Movement, Israeli Scout movement, Young Judaea|
|Founded by||American immigrants|
Ketura (Hebrew: קְטוּרָה) is a kibbutz north of Eilat in the Arava/Arabah or Syrio-African rift valley. It derives its name from a nearby hill and wadi, and it is the name of the second wife of Abraham (Genesis 25:1). It has approximately 150 members and 175 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, 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 congregation-led synagogue. Holidays are celebrated in creative and traditional ways in the community. 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 very successful date orchard. The kibbutz is most well known for its guest house and educational seminar center — Keren Kolot — and its partnership in the local Algae factory. The algae factory (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 as a natural pigment for use in cosmetics; and as a nutraceutical. Ketura is also a partner in the Arava Power Company (APC) - producing electricity from solar panels. There is one field on the kibbutz: Kibbutz Ketura is the site of Ketura Sun, a 4.95-megawatt solar field run by the Arava Power Company, and another field 10 times larger is being constructed in 2014-2015. APC has built many other solar fields in Israel, including some on neighboring kibbutzim and some in Bedouin villages.
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. Many members work outside the kibbutz in professional positions such as teachers, physical therapists, social workers, and more. Ketura also offers accounting, and bookkeeping services to a wide variety of clients - so many members work in these positions.
Ketura is part of the Green Kibbutz movement. In addition to promoting awareness, recycling, and operating a second hand store (Yad 2), Ketura has also experimented with other environmental projects such as a community garden. It has pioneered many new ecologically sounder practices and adopted more common environmentally friendly habits. Members of Ketura founded the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES), which is located on Ketura. 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 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.
Ketura is actively seeking Hebrew speaking young families to join the kibbutz as full members - including the adult children of the community. Ketura has a fully functioning child care center and the children attend school (grades 1-12) 10 minutes away at the Maaleh Shacharut school complex. Ketura is a vibrant, lively community with many children and Ketura hopes that this will be true also in the future. More details are found on the website.
- 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