Golda Meir – Raised in the United States – Became Prime Minister of Israel and Changed the World


Golda Mabovitch (her birth name) was born on May 3, 1898, in Kiev, Russian Empire, present-day Ukraine. Meir wrote in her autobiography that her earliest memories were of her father boarding up the front door in response to rumors of an imminent pogrom. She had two sisters, Golda Meir 3Sheyna and Tzipke, as well as five other siblings who died in childhood. She was especially close to Sheyna.

She immigrated to the U.S. in 1906, with her mother and sisters.

Watch the Store

Golda’s mother  ran a grocery store on Milwaukee’s north side, where by age eight Golda had been put in charge of watching the store when her mother went to the market for supplies. Golda attended the Fourth Street Grade School (now Golda Meir School) from 1906 to 1912. A leader early on, she organized a fund raiser to pay for her classmates’ textbooks.

After forming the American Young Sisters Society, she rented a hall and scheduled a public meeting for the event. She went on to graduate as valedictorian of her class, despite not knowing English at the beginning of her schooling.

At 14, she studied at North Division High School and worked part-time. Her mother wanted her to leave school and marry, but she rebelled. She bought a train ticket to Denver, Colorado, and went to live with her married sister, Sheyna Korngold.

The Korngolds held intellectual evenings at their home, where Meir was exposed to debates on Zionism, literature, women’s suffrage, trade unionism, and more. In her autobiography, she wrote: “To the extent that my own future convictions were shaped and given form […] those talk-filled nights in Denver played a considerable role.”

In Denver, she also met Morris Meyerson (December 17, 1893 – May 25, 1951), a sign painter, whom she later married on December 24, 1917.

Zionism and Husband

While at the Folks Schule, she came more closely into contact with the ideals of Labor Zionism. In 1913 she had begun dating Morris Meyerson. She was a committed Labor Zionist and he was a dedicated socialist. Together, they left their jobs to join a kibbutz in Palestine in 1921.


In the British Mandate of Palestine, Meir and her husband joined a kibbutz. Her duties included picking almonds, planting trees, working in the chicken coops, and running the kitchen. Recognizing her leadership abilities, the kibbutz chose her as its representative to the Histadrut, the General Federation of Labor.Golda Meir 2 - Copy

In 1924, Meir and her husband left the kibbutz and resided briefly in Tel Aviv before settling in Jerusalem. There they had two children, their son Menachem (born 1924) and their daughter Sarah (born 1926).

In 1928, Meir was elected secretary of Moetzet HaPoalot (Working Women’s Council), which required her to spend two years (1932–34) as an emissary in the United States. The children went with her, but her husband stayed in Jerusalem.

Many Ministries

Golda was each of the following at one time or another in her political career:

∙    Minister of Labor
∙    Minister of Foreign Affairs
∙    Minister of Internal Affairs
∙    4th Prime Minister of Israel

Death and Burial

On December 8, 1978, Meir died of lymphatic cancer in Jerusalem at the age of 80. Four days later, on December 12, Meir was buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

Aftermath of the Munich Olympics

In the wake of the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics, Meir appealed to the world to “save our citizens and condemn the unspeakable criminal acts committed”. Outraged at the perceived lack of global action, she ordered the Mossad to hunt down and assassinate suspected leaders and operatives of Black September and PFLP, some of which attack the Israeli Olympians.Golda Meir 1 - Copy

How She Change the World Single-handedly?

She did it with the force of her will and perseverance. She was one of the first female prime ministers in the world. She therefore led by example. She held her convictions even in the face of much (one might say “brutal”) opposition.

Now, what are you doing to change your world? You have will and you have perseverance, or you can surely develop them. Those two are all you need to get started. So …, get to it.

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