California Kibbutz; A Youth Exploration in Diversity

2004, Grand and 6th.

Founding partners; Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission and Councilwoman Jan Perry
Credits: Curator - Cookie Lommel; Framing: Universal Art Gallery; Portrait Photographs: Peter Halmagyi and Photomedia; Photo processing-Paris Photo Lab; Graphics - Prolab Digital and Kamilar Creative.

Text from the Exhibition:

Operation Unity utilizes the Israeli kibbutz, cooperative living/working model as a premier laboratory for young people to experience the essence of global diversity both in Israel and in Los Angeles. Since 1994, urban teens from Los Angeles worked and lived with Israelis and volunteers from over 20 other countries during their six-week-stay on the kibbutz. Operation Unity maintains this model to help break down ethnic barriers, build cultural apprecation among the youth and give them valuable human relations tools.

This year, we decided to create a local project based on our international program that simulates the kibbutz experience right here in California. The kibbutz movement began in Israel almost 100 years ago, it is a microcosm of a community-a cooperative village where the members live and work together for the benefit of all. The kibbutz movement has a tradition of inviting young people from all over the world to help them havest their crops, work in their factories, and generally participate in the productivity of the society as a whole. This results in an environment where curious young people and Israelis of all ages learn about each other's cultures and the value of interdependency in getting a job done.

"We were in the Negev Desert when a student from Roosevelt High School came running to me, raving about his new Korean friend and what he had learned about Korean culture," explains Cookie Lommel, the founder and executive director of Operaiton Unity. He said his friend was equally as interested in his Mexican heritage. "Then I told him that his East L. A. neighborhood was about one mile away from the largest Korean community outside of Korea. Isn't it ironic that you had to fly to Israel to find a Korean friend."

This type of experience became the catalyst that helped create the local Operation Unity project which subsequently gave birth to our California Kibbutz Photo Exhibit - A Youth Exploration in Diversity.

This exhibit includes essays written by, and photos taken by the 15 youngsters who participated in the program, as well as photo portraits of each participant taken by professional photographer Peter Halmagyi. The literary expressions and photographic studies created by the teens describe the power of their kibbutz experience and their newly enlightened vision in discovering a more inclusive view of Los Angeles.

Click on additional California Kibbutz images to see more.