Golda Meir – Part of Our Way of Life

Stand for Israel  |  May 1, 2023

Golda Meir, 1972
Golda Meir, 1972. (Photo: Moshe Milner/GPO)

Surely most of those who stand for Israel know of Golda Meir, the first (and so far, only) female prime minister of Israel.

But did you know that, like so many of those we help, Golda was an olim (an immigrant to Israel)?

And did you know that, before she made aliyah (immigrated to the Holy Land), Golda worked as a schoolteacher in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the American city in which she was raised?

An Immigrant Childhood

Born in Kyiv, the Ukrainian city then part of the Russian Empire, in 1898, one of Golda Mabovitch’s earliest memories was of her father boarding up the family’s door because of anti-Semitic pogroms.

Golda’s father headed to the United States when she was still small, to find work and to find a safer place for his family. After saving enough money, he brought the entire family to America, where Golda’s mother ran a grocery store in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In Milwaukee, Golda showed her leadership skills early on, tending the store by the age of eight, and organizing a fundraiser to buy textbooks for classmates less fortunate than herself. Golda studied to become a teacher, worked at the Milwaukee Public Library, and met a young man named Morris Meyerson.

A Lifelong Zionist

It was also in Milwaukee that Golda began her lifelong support for Zionism, taking part in youth programs and traveling the U.S. raising money for and awareness of the Zionist movement. When Morris proposed marriage, Golda agreed – on the condition that they make aliyah to the Holy Land, which was then British-mandate Palestine – and the couple moved there in 1921, settling on a kibbutz (a communal farm).

In the Holy Land, Golda worked tirelessly for the Jewish people – for aliyah, for protection during the Holocaust, and for the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

A Servant of Israel

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Golda served as a diplomat for the fledgling state, as well as Israel’s labor minister and foreign minister. After battling lymphoma and retiring because of her health and age in the 1960s, Golda realized that serving the state of Israel was her calling.

In 1969, Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol died suddenly. To replace him, Israel elected Golda Meir as its fourth premier and first female leader. Prime Minister Meir came out of retirement to serve her people – God’s people – once again.

During her time leading Israel, PM Meir faced many challenges, including the Munich Olympics massacre in 1972 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Golda Meir passed away at age 80 on December 8, 1978, and is buried at Mt. Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem, where so many of her fellow Israelis lay. For while, like so many Israelis, Golda was born away from the Promised Land, she returned to this country that she described so lovingly and eloquently in her 1975 autobiography, My Life:

“I am also grateful that I live in a country whose people have learned how to go on living in a sea of hatred without hating those who want to destroy them and without abandoning their own vision of peace. To have learned this is a great art, the prescription for which is not written down anywhere. It is part of our way of life in Israel.”

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