Updated: May 2, 2021
Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility, into achievements.
Golda Meir was a powerhouse during a time when women were not in positions of power and helped found the State of Israel.
On March 17, 1969, at the age of 71, Golda Meir became Israel’s first and, so far, only female prime minister. She was the 4th Prime Minister of Israel and the third woman in the world to hold that title.
Like many Zionist Jews, Golda Meir hebraicized her name from Goldie Mabovich when she emigrated to Israel with her husband at age 23 (it was her precondition to their engagement). She was born on May 3, 1898, in Ukraine, but due to economic hardships, her family emigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when she was eight.
She was always a determined woman with a vision. When she was eleven years old, she organized a successful fundraiser to buy textbooks for students who couldn’t afford them. Her parents pulled her out of school after 8th grade, but she protested and enrolled herself in high school.
They continuously tried to get her to quit school, but Golda dreamed of being a teacher and got a job at age 14 to pay for her school supplies. After high school, she joined Poale Zion, a political organization that required its members to commit to emigrating to Israel (Palestine at the time). Golda Meir was 17 years old when she committed to moving to Israel.
From the day she arrived in Israel, Golda was instrumental in advocating for a Jewish state, including fundraising, and was one of the 25 people (and one of two women) to sign Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948. She didn’t become the Prime Minister until 1969, but she held many roles in government before that, including Ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1948, Israel’s first Minister of Labor in 1949, Foreign Minister in 1956, and was additionally a member of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) from 1949 - 1974.
In 1947, Golda Meir raised 50 million dollars for Israel in a short six-week fundraising tour in the USA and in May 1948 dressed up as an Arab woman to meet with King Abdullah of Jordan in an attempt to convince him not to join the Arab League in attacking Israel. She was focused and mission-driven, and always did what she needed to do to help her country.
She was also very supportive of women. During a time of increased assaults against women at night, a cabinet minister suggested keeping women home after dark with a curfew.
“But it’s the men who are attacking the women, Golda responded. If there’s to be a curfew, let the men stay at home, not the women.”
She contended enormous responsibilities in her role as a Prime Minister, including the Six-Day War, the Munich Massacre, the Yom Kippur War, and other very difficult situations. During the last 15 years of her life, she privately battled Lymphatic cancer.
She was an incredible woman, with an incredible talent for speaking sharply and concisely to touch the hearts of people around the world. She so deeply embodied her values that she was a source of inspiration to many people.
She was often the only woman in a room full of men, so when David Ben-Gurion described Golda as “the only man” in his cabinet, it was meant as a compliment. Golda however, was much more astute and said, “I very much doubt that any man would have been flattered if I had said about him that he was the only woman in government.”
Here are 10 messages that she shared (and lived by)
1. Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility, into achievement.
2. Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart, don’t know how to laugh either.
3. Not being beautiful was the true blessing. Not being beautiful forced me to develop my inner resources. The pretty girl has a handicap to overcome.
4. I can honestly say that I was never affected by the question of the success of an undertaking. If I felt it was the right thing to do, I was for it, regardless of the possible outcome.
5. A teacher is one who has a program -- arithmetic, reading, writing, and so on – fulfills it conscientiously, and feels that he has done his job. An educator tries to give children something else in addition: spirit.
6. A leader who doesn’t hesitate before he sends his nation into battle, is not fit to be a leader.
7. Authority poisons everybody who takes authority on himself.
8. One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.
9. Don’t become cynical, don’t give up hope. Don’t believe that everything is judged only by expediency. There is idealism in the world. There is human brotherhood.
10. That same faith that sustained us down the ages, instilled within us the confidence that the hour of peace will come.
May her powerhouse memory be a blessing and may we continue her legacy in our own lives.