Letter to the Palestine Shipping Company, Signed by Golda Meyerson, 1935
This is a letter that appeared in the Palestine Post on August 25, 1935. The letter was translated from the original Hebrew and addressed to the Palestine Shipping Company. The signatories, one of whom is Golda Meyerson, thank the shipping company for their journey on the SS Tel Aviv, particularly for:
"the splendid arrangements on the ship, its excellent service, the general use of Palestine products, and the warm Jewish atmosphere which prevailed.”
The authors of the letter praised the shipping company and described their work as a “pioneering enterprise,” adding that the company was performing an important role in extending the borders of a Jewish country across the globe. The company’s efforts, they stated, should oblige “Jewish travelers and Palestinian importers and exporters to lend their support towards its fuller development.”
The letter was signed by delegates and visitors to the 19th Zionist Congress including many famous Zionist leaders such as Golda Meir, David Remez, Abba Hushi, Shmuel Dayan, Rachel Yanait Ben Zvi (here written Janait Ben Zwi).
The Zionist Congress (or the World Zionist Congress as it is known today) is the supreme organ of the World Zionist Organization (WZO). It elects the officers and decides on the policies of the WZO and the Jewish Agency. The 1st World Zionist Congress was established by Theodore Herzl and took place in Basel, Switzerland in 1897. From 1897 to 1901 the Zionist Congress met annually and from 1903 to 1913 and 1921 to 1939 biennially. Its original goal was to build an infrastructure to further Jewish settlement in Palestine. At the 1935 Congress, various issues were discussed, many centring around the rescue of German Jewry and their immigration to Palestine.
Since World War II, meetings have been held approximately every four years; since 1948, the Congress has met every four or five years in Jerusalem. Any Jew over the age of 18 who belongs to a Zionist association is eligible to vote; the number of elected delegates is 500. Among the delegates, 38% are allocated to Israel, 29% to the US, and 33% to the remainder of the Diaspora countries.
The SS Tel Aviv was a passenger and cargo ship on the Haifa-Trieste route. It was forced out of business due to competition with an Italian shipping company.
Jewish History teachers can use this resource when teaching about Golda Meir’s life, particularly prior to 1948. This resource also provides information about the efforts made in the 1930s to create an infrastructure for the Jewish state. It can also be used to teach about the Zionist Congress and the Zionist movement in general.
English teachers can use this letter as an example of a public letter of thanks.
Who is the letter addressed to?
Who signed the letter?
Where was the letter published?
What is the letter about?
Reading Between the Lines
What caused the authors of the letter to be so satisfied by their trip on the SS Tel Aviv?
The authors of the letter mentioned the “warm Jewish atmosphere” on board the ship. What contributed to this feeling?
What do the authors of this letter mean by “Palestine products.”
According to this letter, why should “Jewish travelers and Palestinian importers and exporters” support the shipping company that owned the SS Tel Aviv?
Imagine that you did not know when this letter was written. How would you be able to a guess?
Besides Golda Meyerson, do you recognize the names of any other signatories?
The signatories of the letter were on their way to the 19th Zionist Congress. What issues were discussed there?
The letter mentions a warm Jewish atmosphere.
What does that mean to you? When and where do you feel a warm Jewish atmosphere?
Very few people sail to Israel today. What is the alternative way of traveling to Israel?
Is there a difference in the “Jewish atmosphere” when traveling to Israel with an Israeli airline company?
Make a list of some of the products that might have been available aboard the ship during the journey
If you have flown El Al, describe your experiences in an imaginary diary entry.