A new site in kibbutz Merhavia's cooperative courtyard: A special exhibit providing the opportunity for a peek into the room where former Prime Minister Golda Meir lived 85 years ago, after she came to Israel.
Golda and her husband Moris Meirson arrived in Israel from the US in September 1921, and asked to join the Merhavia kibbutz in the Jezre'el valley.
At first, the couple was not found to be acceptable, for two reasons: 1) There was a general decision not to accept families, as the kibbutz afforded no facilities for children; 2) The Meirson's struck them as 'spoiled Americans', who wouldn not be able to work as hard as necessary.
The Meirsons then unveiled the 'secret weapon' they'd brought from the States: a hand-powered gramophone and several records. The kibbutz members could not resist such a 'cultural treasure' and the couple was accepted to the kibbutz.
Not embarrassed to work in the kitchen
As if to prove to Golda that she wouldn not be able to handle the work, she was sent to the most difficult physical labor: Picking almonds, moving large stones and cutting trees.
After discovering that the American was tough, she was sent to the kitchen – considered humiliating work, since kibbutz women at the time were pushing for egalitarianism and lobbying for physical tasks.
Responding, "I don't know why feeding cows is an honor and feeding humans is a lesser one," Golda set about the task. Within a short while, she significantly improved the menu and the appearance of the dining room, and won the respect of kibbutz members.
When she was sent to learn poultry-raising, she showed the same dedication and quickly became such a poultry expert that people from across the Jezre'el valley came to learn from her.
She was later voted to the cooperative's management committee and served as a delegate to the kibbutz movement in kibbutz Degania in 1922.
Leaving the kibbutzWhile Golda quickly thrived in the kibbutz, her husband was not able to assimilate as well, neither ideologically nor physically. After an illness took him to his bed for several weeks, a physician instructed that they should leave Merhavia.
In March of 1923, a year and a half after joining the kibbutz, the couple was forced to move to Tel Aviv. Later, Golda returned to the kibbutz for two years, with her son Menachem.
Golda eventually separated from her husband, although they did not divorce. Moris passed away in 1951. She passed away, at the age of 80, in December 1978.
The modest and reconstructed room is 23 square meters, with an attached corridor of 21 square meters. The exhibition (design: Ronit Lombrozo; graphics: Zeev Harari) recreates the atmosphere of Golda's room, including an old gramophone of the same design as the one the Meirson's brought.
The exhibition continues in the corridor, where there is a long board featuring pictures and texts of Golda's time and connection to Merhavia.
The formal opening of 'Golda's Room' will take place in the middle of December, with a festive ceremony to be attended by two Meir family members, the kibbutz members, heads of the council for preservation of historical sites and many other guests.
However, it is already possible to visit the room, on the condition of payment and coordination in advance.
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