Golda Meir's American Roots

Golde Mabovitch Meyerson, better known as Golda Meir or simply Golda, was a founder of the modern state of Israel. Her name ranks in the Zionist pantheon with Theodor Herzl, Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion. Unlike these others, Golda was shaped by her formative years as an American.

 

Born in 1898 near Kiev, Ukraine, Golda was named for her maternal great-grandmother, who always took salt instead of sugar in her tea to mark the bitterness of the Jewish Diaspora. Golda claimed that her memories of Ukraine were of grinding poverty, hunger and pogroms. According to biographer Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Golda later "attributed her lifelong commitment to Jewish security to her [childhood] memories of anti-Semitic violence and the experience of hiding from the Cossacks."

 

In 1903, her father, a carpenter, emigrated to America, promising to return for his family when he had enough money. Three years later, her mother, tired of waiting, took Golda and her two sisters to join him in Milwaukee. They settled into a tiny apartment in the cityâ??s poor Jewish section and Goldaâ??s mother opened a convenience store in which all the girls were expected to work.

 

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