In Golda Meir's Words

Friday, 18 July, 2014 - 3:37 pm

On a day like today, when the brave men and women of the IDF are courageously risking their lives, battling against terrorists –any words I write will ring hollow.

I therefore lift from the words of Golda Meir, the famous Prime Minister of Israel, as told by statesman, Yehuda Avner.

During the Yom Kippur War, Yehuda Avner was the head of the Prime Minister Golda Meir’s Foreign Press Bureau. When the war started, he was appointed to deal with the huge throng of international press that had converged on Israel to cover the war.

On the 5th day of the war, Golda Meir decided to see the northern battlefield with her own eyes. At the start of the war, the Syrians had overrun to the north of Israel, and miraculously, the IDF soldiers with great courage and significant sacrifice, succeeded in pushing the Syrian forces back and pursued them to Beirut.

Moshe Dayan and Golda Meir, press entourage in tow, landed above the so called, “Emek Habacha”  (the Valley of Tears)— scene of a horrific tank battle which turned the tide of the war. It was a horrific scene of devastation and loss of life.

Golda approached the soldiers and thanked them for their service, and talked to them for a short while. When she was finished she turned to the soldiers and asked, “Do you have any questions for me?”

A soldier covered with soot and dust, raised his hand and asked a painful question.

The solder began, “I lost my father in the 1948 War of Independence. I lost my uncle in the 1967 Six-Day War. I lost my best friend in this war”.

“ Golda— what’s the point if we can’t win the peace?”

Yehuda Avner recalls that a deep sadness swept over the Prime Minister as she began her reply.

 “You know, you might well be right. If it is only for ourselves [that we are fighting]— you might well be right. But [since] it is for the sake of the entire Jewish People —any sacrifice is worthwhile.”

And then Golda elaborated on her answer by telling a personal and well known story.

In 1948 Golda Meir was appointed as the first ambassador to Stalinist Russia. The first Shabbat in Moscow,  the secular future Prime Minister went to Synagogue to attend Friday Evening Services.  It was virtually empty.

The second Shabbat, a historic event unfolded. Tens of Thousands of Jews gathered at the synagogue, yelling out “A Gut Shabbos Golda-le!” “Sholom Aleichem Goldale!” “A brocha oif dir Golda-le.”

Word had somehow spread that Golda Meir was going to attend synagogue and the glowing embers of Jewish Pride burst forth into a flame of love and desire to connect with their Judaism outside of the Iron Curtain, and to connect with Golda Meir despite the risks in Stalinist Russia.

Golda Meir’s response:  “Ich Dank Eich, Vos Ir Hot Geblibin Yiddin” – Thank you for remaining Jewish.  

Golda then turned to the soldier,  as she recalled the Moscow scene where she had witnessed the sacrifices of Soviet Jewry, the interconnected and unified nature of the Jewish People, and the optimistic tenacity with which Jews maintained their Jewish root despite the risks.

“I now realize that for the sake of the Jewish People —any of our sacrifices are worthwhile."

May Hashem Protect and Bless the Soldiers of the IDF.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabi Yisroel Hecht 

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