Golda Meir – Minister of Labour, 1954
The photograph shows Golda Meir, minister of Labour, giving the first maternity grant in Israel in 1954 at Hadassah Hospital, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem to new mother Rachel Mizrachi. Just several hours earlier, on that same morning of April 1, the Knesset had passed the National Insurance Law. Golda Meir is shown smiling at the new mother who is in bed with the new-born baby beside her. There is a vase of flowers on the bedside table.
On the back of the picture is the stamp of the photographer, David Rubinger, and the Hebrew handwriting gives a brief description of the picture.
In 1949, Golda Meir was elected to the first Knesset (Israeli Parliament) as a member of the leading Mapai party. Prime Minister Ben-Gurion invited her to be deputy prime minister. She declined and was instead appointed minister of labour. As minister of labour, Golda created large infrastructure projects (including housing) to deal with the vast number of new immigrants arriving in Israel. She was also involved in initiating social legislation such as the maternity grant and the National Insurance Law, which protected the rights of vulnerable workers.
David Rubinger was a famous Israeli photographer and many of his photographs depict important events in the State of Israel. One of his most famous photographs is that of three Israeli paratroopers beside the Kotel in 1967.
Jewish History and Civics teachers can use this photograph to discuss the life of Golda Meir. It can also be used to study the formative years of the State of Israel; the establishment of various laws and the establishment of the social structures necessary in a modern liberal country.
The resource can also be used in General Studies classes as a trigger for discussions on the rights of workers, in particular women and the differences between the rights of women in the 1950s and today.
Art and Media teachers can use this photograph when discussing the role of photojournalism.
How many people are in the picture?
Who is in the picture? What is being handed to the woman in bed?
Describe the room they are in.
Reading Between the Lines
What expressions are the people in this picture conveying and why?
What elements help you understand where the picture was taken?
This photograph was taken by an official photographer. Why do you think he took this photograph? Why was it taken on this specific day?
Why do you think that this particular component of the National Insurance Law was important to Golda Meir?
Why do you think it was important to legislate laws in Israel such as the one giving women a grant after having a baby?
What rights do new mothers have in your country?
How do these compare with the rights given to new mothers in Israel?
What do you think a new mother needs most from the state?
Do you think that it is important that women serve in government? Why?
Write an imaginary conversation between Golda Meir and Rachel Mizrachi (the new mother).
Suggest another law that could help women support their families.