Ketura, Israel

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PikiWiki Israel 29353 Guest houses in Kibbutz Ketura.JPG
Ketura is located in Southern Negev region of Israel
Coordinates: 29°58′3.36″N 35°4′15.24″E / 29.9676000°N 35.0709000°E / 29.9676000; 35.0709000Coordinates: 29°58′3.36″N 35°4′15.24″E / 29.9676000°N 35.0709000°E / 29.9676000; 35.0709000
CouncilHevel Eilot
AffiliationKibbutz Movement
FoundedNovember 1973
Founded byAmerican immigrants

Ketura (Hebrew: קְטוּרָה‬) is a kibbutz in southern Israel. Located north of Eilat in the Aravah Valley, it falls under the jurisdiction of Hevel Eilot Regional Council. In 2017 it had a population of 476.[1]


The name Ketura was taken from a nearby hill and wadi, and is also the name of the second wife of Abraham (Genesis 25:1).


Ketura was founded in November 1973 by a group of young American Jewish immigrants, most of them members of the Zionist youth movement Young Judaea.[2] Difficulties in the early years frustrated many of the inhabitants of the kibbutz, which caused many of the founders to leave. At the same time, more Young Judaeans joined the community, along with a variety of other immigrants as well as Israel Boy and Girl Scouts Federation graduates. Ketura is in the Southern Arava - Hevel Eilot Regional Council.

Today Ketura has about 150 members and several young families who are candidates to become members. During the year there are about 450 people living on Ketura, members and their families, students in the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, volunteers from around the world, Arava International Center for Agriculture Training (AICAT) students from around the world, NOAM youth movement members in various programs such as gap year or service year (shnat sherut), and researchers who come to work in regional institutes.

Religious culture[edit]

Ketura is unique among kibbutzim for its religious pluralism. Although the kibbutz is not considered a religious kibbutz, Jewish dietary laws (kashrut) and Sabbath rules are observed in the dining room, public areas, and at social and cultural events, and there is a functioning congregation-led egalitarian synagogue. The population of the kibbutz is composed of observant, masorati (moderately observant), and secular members, an unusual situation for a kibbutz. Ketura received the Speaker of the Knesset Prize for religious tolerance as a result of its religious progressiveness.


Algae production at Kibbuz Ketura

The kibbutz is best known for its involvement in ecological activities, mainly its partnership in the local algae factory, Algatech,[3] and its guest house and educational seminar center, Keren Kolot.[4] The solar power industry (see below) has been gaining importance locally.

Economic cooperation with other kibbutzim in the area includes a regional date-packing plant, Ardom Computing Services, and Ardag, a large fish hatchery near Eilat. Many members work outside the kibbutz in professional positions such as teachers, physical and occupational therapists, researchers, social workers, and more. Ketura also offers accounting and bookkeeping services, with many members working in these positions. A number of members work in the local NGO - The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES).


Agricultural enterprises of the kibbutz include date orchards.[5]

Guest house and seminar center[edit]

The kibbutz is well known for its guest house and educational seminar center — Keren Kolot[4]

Algae production and processing[edit]

The red rainwater microalgae (Haematococcus pluvialis) are single-cell organisms, part of the oldest group of living organisms.[6] Their long evolution led them to adapt to extreme conditions and to develop survival mechanisms against bacteria and fungi.[6] Haematococcus pluvialis has been cultivated and processed at Ketura since 1998, when the AlgaTechnologies, Ltd. company was established, for their content of astaxanthin, one of the strongest known natural antioxidant substances, considered to benefic to the immune, cardiovascular and nervous systems, to joints and muscles.[7][6] The main Algatech product, AstaPure, is natural astaxanthin extracted from the algae.[6] It is mainly sold the United States, Japan and Europe - in total, to more than 30 countries,[6] where it is used as a natural ingredient and pigment for use in cosmetics;[8] and as a nutraceutical, including as an ingredient for dietary supplements.[6] Research has proven astaxanthin to have positive health effects on a multitude of organs and body functions, such as: eyesight, skin, physical effort durig sport activities, cognitive abilities, anti-inflammatory effects and so forth.[6] Algatech, to which Kibbutz Ketura is a partner, is considered a leading company in microalgae agriculture and one of the most forward-looking innovators in the field, worldwide.[6]


Ketura is part of the Green Kibbutz movement. In addition to promoting awareness, recycling and opening a second-hand store, Ketura planted a community garden and operates a high-tech algae farm.[2]

The Judean date palm at Ketura, nicknamed Methuselah

Arava Institute for Environmental Studies[edit]

Members of Ketura founded the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES), which is located at Ketura. The institute promotes regional environmental cooperation between Israelis, Palestinians and residents of neighbouring Arab countries in environmental matters, with a focus on the desert ecosystem.[9][2]

Solar power[edit]

Ketura is a partner in the Arava Power Company (APC),[10] producing electricity from solar panels. There is one 4.95MW field on the kibbutz, Ketura Sun, with a second 40MW field opened in 2015, then the largest in Israel.[11]

Date palm grown from germinated ancient seed[edit]

The only surviving example of the Judean date palm, artificially germinated from a 2,000-year-old seed discovered in archaeological excavations, was planted in Ketura and continues to survive there. It was nicknamed 'Methuselah'.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "List of localities, in Alphabetical order" (PDF). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Isabel Kershner, Israeli Desert Yields a Harvest of Energy, New York Times, 20 April 2012. Accessed 24 September 2018.
  3. ^ Algatech homepage
  4. ^ a b Keren Kolot homepage
  5. ^ Kibbutz Ketura homepage
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Assaf Kamar, Turning the desert green and red, Ynetnews, 22 March 2018. Accessed 24 September 2018.
  7. ^ Abigail Klein Leichman, The powerful new antioxidant made of sun and algae], ISRAEL21c, 17 March 2013, accessed 24 September 2018.
  8. ^ Algatech homepage
  9. ^ Arava Institute for Environmental Studies homepage
  10. ^ Arava Power Company homepage
  11. ^ Sharon Udasin, Israel's largest solar field begins flowing to the national grid, The Jerusalem Post, 29 July 2015. Accessed 24 September 2018.

External links[edit]