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Golda Meir (on the left side) with his baby son Menachem, on the stairs.

When most families left the Merchavia Cooperation in 1918, the only ones who remained in the farm were several young bachelors. Being unable to cope with the heavy load, they, too, left in the end of 1919. A new group of young people arrived at the place, only to leave a year later in order to form a new group – nearby Geva. Later, in 1921, Merchavia ‘s new settlers were soldiers recently released from service in the “Hebrew Regiment”, Originally coming from the U.S.A and Great Britain to assist General Alenbi in freeing Israel from Turkish rule, they tried to live according to the Dgania Kibbutz Model.

Golda's room today.

Golda Meir was born in Russia in 1898, but her family immigrated to Milwaukee in the U.S.A when she was a child. Ever since her youth, she was interested in Zionist-socialist activity and was greatly influenced by David Ben Gurion and Yizhak Ben Zvi who visited the States during World War I. After marrying Morris Meirson, the couple came to Israel and in September 1921 asked to be accepted as members in Merchavia. They were considered unqualified due to two reasons:
     1. Having learned from the failure of the Cooperation, the group members did not accept families because there were no accommodations for children yet.
     2. The Meirsons seemed to them as “spoiled Americans” who would not be able to endure the hard work.   

It was then that the couple used their “secret weapon” which they brought from the states – a gramophone ( whose handle had to be constantly turned in order to make it work…) and several copper records. The settlers could not resist such a “cultural treasure” and the Meirsons were accepted on the spot.

As if to prove Golda conditions were too harsh for her, she was assigned the hardest physical jobs: almond picking, stones removal and tree planting. As she writes in her autobiography: “when I returned to my room in the evening, I could not move a finger, but I knew that if I did not show up for dinner everyone will say “What did I tell you? American girls are too spoiled!” I would gladly give up my dinner because the mashed green peas we ate were not worth lifting up my fork – but I went to the dining room like all members.”

Golda Meir in the chicken coop.

Later, when the members realized “this American” was indeed determined, they assigned her the greatly despised kitchen work (the group’s women wanted to do only the hardest jobs in order to prove themselves as capable as men). But Golda said: “I don’t understand why feeding cows is an honorable chore and feeding people is considered dishonorable” and set to work with the characteristic enthusiasm. Within a short while she changed the dull meals completely (in her autobiography she writes how she managed, with the same budget, to prepare tastier and more varied food ), made the dining room prettier and gained a lot of respect from the members.

Golda was sent to learn about maintaining a poultry, and naturally became a professional in that field. People from all over the valley came to see and learn from her. Furthermore, she was included in the “group’s general committee” and her moment of glory was when she was sent as a representative of the group to the Group Movement Convention in Dgania in 1922, where she made her speech in Yiddish since her Hebrew was not good enough. Even after being Israel’s Prime Minister, she still writes about it with pride and a great sense of responsibility.

Unfortunately, Morris Meirson failed to adapt to the hard life in the group neither ideologically nor physically. After he became ill and lay in bed for weeks, the doctor told them they must leave Merchavia as soon as possible. And thus, in March 1923, a year and a half since they arrived in Merchavia, the Meirsons had to leave and return to Tel Aviv where Golda became intensively politically active.

In 1925, Golda returned to Merchavia with her eldest son Menachem and chose a small room as her living quarter near the children’s room “in order to save the necessity to assign a watch guard” as she wrote in her autobiography “My life” (her room is reconstructed today). She was presently summoned back to Jerusalem by her political party leaders and was offered a new job, thus giving up on Merchavia, this time permanently. Nevertheless, Golda always remembered Merchavia and visited the place several times, including the Jubilee celebrations as well as a visit to Meir Yaari, Mapam leader who was a kibbutz member. She always told the kibbutz members how she loved Merchavia.

In order to coordinate your visit the Great Courtyard, please call Shlomo Sdeur and inform him of the date and hour you will be coming. Mr. Sdeur’s cell phone number: 052/3638156.