Golda Meir (1898-1978)

Portrait of Golda Meir

Golda Meir was born in Kiev, Russia on 3 May 1898 to Moshe Yitzhak and Bluma (Neiditch) Mabovitch. Five siblings died in childhood; Golda and two others, Sheyna and Zipke, survived into adulthood. When she was five her father left for New York, and the rest of the family moved to Pinsk to join her mother's family. In 1905, Moshe moved to Milwaukee in order to get a better paying job, and found employment in the workshops of the city's railroad yard. The following year, he brought his family to the United States. Golda attended the Fourth Street Grade School in Milwaukee and graduated in 1912. She attended the Milwaukee Normal School (now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) in 1916, and probably part of 1917. The same year, Golda took a position at a Yiddish-speaking Folks Schule. While at the Folks Schule, she came more closely into contact with the ideals of Labor Zionism. In 1913, she began dating Morris Meyerson, and they married on 24 December 1917. 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. She gradually became more involved with the Zionist movement. At the end of World War II, she took part in the negotiations with the British that resulted in the creation of the state of Israel. In 1948, she became Israel's first Minister to the Soviet Union. The ministry lasted seven months, and she returned to Israel in 1949 to become Minister of Labor. In 1956, she became Foreign Minister, and served in this capacity until her retirement in 1965. Golda Meir changed her name from "Meyerson" to "Meir" in 1956.

On 26 February 1969, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol died of a heart attack, at which time many members of the Knesset asked Golda to return to politics. She became prime minister of Israel with the Labor Party's support. Meir's greatest crisis came during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. While prime minister, she spent much of her time developing support for Israel by meeting with western leaders. In 1974, the labor coalition broke up and Meir left office. She died four years later.

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