How did different facets of Zionism resonate with Jews in the mid-twentieth century, and how did ethnic origin affect this relationship with Zionism? In this article, I examine how the kibbutz figured in the immigration stories of well-educated women who came to Israel from Iraq and Poland in the 1950s. Both groups of women report that upon their immigration, they saw the kibbutz as the culmination of the Zionist project, and were excited about living in one. They also have a shared central complaint that kibbutz life was inconsistent with the life course goals they brought to Israel, such as their desire to attain university educations. Despite this overall similarity in stories, however, there was a critical difference. Though women from both groups valued the kibbutz as a community, Poles, who were normally Holocaust survivors and who had often lost their families in the Holocaust, speak of the separation from the kibbutz with emotion and sense of betrayal, while Iraqis, who arrived with intact families and ethnic communities, are considerably more instrumental in their tone. The analysis points to the complicated interface between ethnicity and Zionism and Zionist institutions, as well as the resonance of the ideology for new immigrants, and indeed the range of needs the new state’s institutions were expected to address.