ON THIS FIFTH NIGHT, we salute the founders of the State of Israel. Today, Zionism is the spiritual link to Israel and its people, the mystical tie that nourishes Jews everywhere. It is a call to cultural nationalism that perpetuates the lessons of a shared past and hopes of a united future.
Golda Meir, Fourth Prime Minister of Israel
Golda Meir (1898-1978) was dubbed Israeli politics’ “Iron Lady,” and David Ben-Gurion called her “the best man in the government.” Born in Kiev, she moved to the United States with her family at age 8, and then made aliyah at age 23. In the early days of the State of Israel, Meir succeeded in raising $50 million to purchase the means for Israel to defend itself and survive. An ardent Zionist her entire life, Meir served her country in a multitude of official capacities, including Ambassador to Moscow, Labor Minister, Foreign Minister, and, from 1969-1974, Prime Minister, when she was at Israel’s helm during the difficult period of the Yom Kippur War. One of her most famous quotes is, “We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours.”
Meir is a Chanukah Hero because she was a passionate leader who worked tirelessly on behalf of Israel.
David Ben-Gurion, Founding Prime Minister of Israel
David Ben-Gurion signs Israel’s Declaration of Independence, May 14, 1948
David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) was the leading founder of the Jewish State. Despite all of the adversities, he resolutely declared Israel as a sovereign Jewish state, and he led Israel to victory against all odds in the 1948 War of Independence. As the first prime minister of Israel, he was instrumental in the formation of the infant State, building state institutions and absorbing vast numbers of olim (new immigrants) into Israel.
Ben-Gurion is a Chanukah Hero because:
- He formed Israel as a Jewish, Zionist, and democratic state
- He helped shape Israeli society as a manifestation of the multi-faceted nature of the Jewish people, striving for peace and working for the betterment of the world.