Golda Takes a Stand: Golda Meir’s First Crusade explores Justice
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Golda Takes a Stand: Golda Meir’s First Crusade explores Justice

Book Title: Goldie Takes A Stand: Golda Meir's First Crusade

Author: Barbara Krasner

Illustrator: Kelsey Garrity-Riley

Book Summary:

Even at the age of nine, little Golda Meir was known for being a leader. As the president of the American Young Sisters Society, she organizes her friends to raise money to buy textbooks for immigrant classmates. A glimpse at the early life of Israel’s first female prime minister, who was born in Russia and grew up in Milwaukee, this story is based on a true episode in the early life of Golda Meir.

Topic(s) Addressed:

This lesson, based on the book Golda Takes a Stand: Golda Meir's First Crusade explores the concepts and values of determination, leadership, fairness, and equality. This story and lesson can easily be incorporated into curriculum celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel's Independence Day).

Enduring Understandings:

  1. Golda Meir never gave up. She worked all her life to make the world a better place.
  2. Golda Meir was the first and only woman Prime Minister of Israel, and one of a only a few women to have led their countries. 
  3. Each of us, no matter how young or old we are, has a responsibility and ability to make the world a safer, more fair, and kinder place for all humankind (Pursue Justice- Tzedek Tirdof).
  4. Helping others also helps us --it makes us feel good inside.

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

“In the pantheon of illustrious national leaders there exists an even more elite subgroup, female heads of state, among whom stands one Jewish woman: Golda Meir, the Prime Minister of Israel from 1969 to 1973. Pioneer, visionary, risk-taker, indefatigable fundraiser, eloquent advocate, she was an activist of the first order, one of the founders of the Jewish state, a woman whose life story is as central to the mythos of modern Zionism as that of Theodor Herzl, Chaim Weizmann, and David Ben-Gurion. Presidents and kings found her willfulness charming, while her grandmotherly appearance and plain-spoken personal style endeared her to ordinary people around the world… Jew, Zionist, Israeli—these were the identities that defined Golda …”
(Source: Jewish Women’s Archives. Additional information on the life and contributions of Golda Meir)

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

“Seek Justice” - Tzedek Tirdof” collage: Create a large life-size cutout of Golda Meir as a young girl. Involve students (in your classroom and the school) with filling it with pictures and news articles that capture students, teachers, parents, school administrators, staff, and community members in “Taking a Stand.” Place it in a common area of your school as a reminder of the impact one person can make. Next to this, include an “exhibit label”which contains a few facts about Golda Meir and briefly describes her “first crusade.” (See “Goldie’s First Campaign” Activity in “Explore, Discover, and More” section.)

Materials and resourcesmore


Materials for creating bookmarks (wide variety of bookmarks with directions
Large cutout of Golda Meir as a young girl (made material such a butcher paper or poster board)
Pictures of Golda Meir


Digital slide show tool such as Smilebox

Sharing The Storymore

Introducing The story

Who Am I? Display an image of Golda Meir
Explain that the woman pictured is Golda Meir, one of the most famous women who ever lived.

 Hide a few clue-cards around the room, each with a different picture of Meir on the front and one “fun fact” on the back (see below for sample clues). Allow time for students to search the room and find the clues,

Have students share their “fact” with the class (with teacher help as appropriate). Help students use the world map to locate places mentioned.

“Fun Facts”
-Golda Meir’s real name was Golda Mabowehz (spelled many different ways)
-She was born in Kiev- then part of the Russian empire and today part of the Ukraine.
-She came to the U.S. when she was young and lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
-Her father was a carpenter and her mother worked in a grocery store.
-Golda studied to be a teacher.
--She was one of the founders of the State of Israel.
--She worked on a Kibbutz when she first arrived to what is now Israel. She picked almonds, planted trees, worked in the chicken coops, and ran the kitchen.
--She chose a new last name for herself. “Meir” is the Hebrew word for “one who shines.”
--Israel’s 4th Prime Minister, Golda Meir was the first and only woman Prime Minister of Israel
--Golda Meir was the only American to be Prime Minister of Israel.
--Golda Meir was called the “Iron Lady” because she worked really hard to help Israel grow and never gave up.

Introduce the non-fiction book, Goldie Takes a Stand: Golda Meir’s First Crusade

Display the cover. Involve students in analyzing the cover using Visual Thinking Strategies by responding to the following questions:

  • What’s going on?
  • What makes you think that?
  • What more can we discover?
Discuss the phrase “Taking a Stand” what do students think it means?
  • Explain that “Goldie” in the title refers to Golda Meir. It is a true story about a time when Goldie “took a stand” to help the poorer children in her community. She was only nine!

Reading The Story

Read the story aloud, stopping when appropriate to explore illustrations, address student comments and questions, clarify, predict, and guide students’ understanding of the story and the values of seeking justice- Tzedek Tirdof, and giving to others -tzedakah.
Possible discussion starters:

  • The story begins with a meeting of a group of Jewish Immigrants from Russia. Goldie was president of the group. Ask, “What is an immigrant?” “What does this tell you about Goldie? (She too was an immigrant.) 
  • Did any of their parents/grandparents come from other countries? (Identify these places on a map and discuss how far they are from where they live today.) 
  • What did Goldie do to raise money? Which idea do you think was the best? Why? 
  • During her speech, Goldie said, “Imagine what it feels like to sit in your classroom without a textbook.” Discuss with students that when they put themselves in someone else’s place, it is a good way for them understand what another person is feeling or thinking.) Provide other examples. 
  • How do you think Goldie and her friends felt when they were able to raise money to buy books for the children who didn’t have any? (Giving tzedakah usually makes those who give feel good inside—happy to have been able to help in some way.) 
  • In addition to the need for new textbooks, Goldie saw another need in her community-to help new immigrants learn English. Explain the meaning of the value of Tzedek Tirdof- seeking justice. 
  • Whose responsibility is it to help others? (EVERYONE!) 

Show a picture of Goldie when she was young 
  • What similarities and differences do they see between the actual photograph and the illustration in the book? 
  • Ask, “How well did the illustrator do in capturing Golda Meir’s image?”

After The Story

Taking a Stand:

  • Involve students in organizing their own Book Drive Campaign.
  • Identify and contact an organization (or two) in the community that would benefit from receiving children’s books.
  • Have students create posters and send letters to parents making them aware of the need to collect books.
  • Have an area dedicated for book drops with boxes labeled by age.
  • Have students create their own bookmarks. Visit the Pinterest for a wide variety of creative bookmark ideas. 

Invite a representative of the organization(s) to come to school to receive the books and bookmarks and to explain how the efforts of your students will help so many other children.

The Story of Our Book Drive:
Involve students in creating a digital slideshow, “The Story of Our Book Drive.”
Take pictures and video that capture students’ efforts and excitement as they work together on their campaign.
Use video and pictures to create a digital slideshow. (Smilebox is one example of a site that enables this.) Post the digital slideshow on your school’s website to inspire other projects to fulfill community needs.


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Goldie’s First Crusade

(Drama, Language Arts) 
Create a “Reader’s Theater” to help children retell the story.
Involve students in a collaborative writing activity in which they work together to tell a little about Golda Meir and Goldie’s First Crusade. (Use white board/Smart Board or similar for writing the draft and editing.) Using their words, create an “exhibit label” similar to those in museums which explain art items, and post it next to the “Seeking Justice” collage (see Jewish Every Day activity).

We’re Taking a Stand
(Language Arts) 
Using puppets or other visual props, role play various scenarios to illustrate the concept of “taking a stand.” Select scenarios that are common in your school community (i.e. a student keeps breaking the rules of the game during recess; you discover that the animals at a local animal shelter are in need of soft pillows to sleep on, etc.).

Golda Changes Her Name 
Golda Meir changed her last name to Meir from Mabowehz when she moved to Israel. In Hebrew, Meir means” Illumination” or “light.”
  • Have students research their Hebrew names. What does the name mean? Have them Interview their parents to discover why they selected the name. 
  • Have students create name plates with their Hebrew names (have parents provide the names in advance. (For those students who do not have a Hebrew name, help them find a translation in Hebrew or in the language of their ancestors.) 
  • Have them decorate and display these name plates on their desks. 

Hilary Clinton: A Groundbreaking Leader 
(Current Events, Language Arts, Art) 
 Golda Meir was only one of a very few women in the world to lead their country. Introduce students to Hillary Clinton, the first woman to be nominated by a major political party for President of the United States.

(Note: This activity is not designed to be a political statement. It is designed to inspire young girls and boys – giving them a sense that each of us, in our own way, has the ability to follow our dreams and help change the world.)
  • Explain that from a young age, Hillary Clinton worked to improve health care for children, fought for women’s rights, and worked to bring about peace in Israel (negotiated a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas). 
  • Discuss with students what things they think are important –what would they “fight” for? List these on the board. 
  • Have students deliver a short speech that focuses on something they would “fight” for /stand up for. Encourage them to think about it and then “speak from the heart” as Goldie did. You may wish to have them create a picture to go along with the speech

Music Connectionsmore

List of All Songs


Each of us has a role in making sure that we are all treated fairly and kindly, just like the character One in the story. What are some things you can do ? Ask students to write and discuss several of their ideas.

• Invite someone who is alone to play with you and your friends.
• Send a card to a friend who is sick.
• Stand up when you see a person being hurt by words or by hands.

2. Select two of your ideas and use them to write a new verse for the song, “It Only Takes One” by Miss Emily. Follow this pattern, and attempt to make the first and third lines end in rhyming sounds to match the rest of the song:

It only takes one __________
To __________________________
It only takes one __________
To __________________________

For example:
It only takes one “join us”
To brighten a day
It only takes one kindness
To take pain away

3. How will you illustrate your stanza? List ideas or photos you can take or illustrations you can create. Plan a poster that can be used in a school-wide “Power of One” poster campaign or video. (When planning a video, individual students/pairs can sing their stanza as their picture is shown while the entire class sings the original chorus of the song, “It Only Takes One.”

For posters, be sure to include:
• The slogan “The Power of One”
• your stanza
• any pictures or illustrations
• other decorations


It only takes one
To change a mind
It only takes one
That will remind
It only takes one
to lead community
It only takes one
To change history

One, leads to two, two then three
One brave first step can start with me
One leads two, then three, then four
Start making healthy changes, you’ll inspire more

It only takes one
to hurt a friend
It only takes one
to start amends
It only takes one
so what is new won’t be strange
It only takes one
to start a change


It only takes one
to grow a family
It only takes one
to share community
It only takes one
to be heard out loud
It only takes one
Good deed
to start to feel proud

One, leads to two, two then three
One brave first step can start with me
One leads two, then three, then four
Start making healthy changes, you’ll inspire more
Start making healthy changes, you’ll inspire more
Start making healthy changes, you’ll inspire more
It only takes one

Evidence of Learningmore

  • Students’ discussion of the story and the ways in which Golda Meir helped others. 
  • Student's involvement in the Book Drive and the way in which it impacted them. 
  • Student's demonstrate understanding of the phrase “to stand up” as they apply to real life situations in their own lives.


Encourage families to help with the book drive by posting flyers, organizing books, etc.

For parents interested in discovering additional ways to involve their children in helping others, suggest “Teaching Children About Charity” video.

literature connectionsmore

TitleAuthorIllustratorBook Summary
Golda Meir: A Strong, Determined Leader David Adlern/aDiscover the great Women of Our Time in these reissues of short middle grade biographies on the lives of twentieth-century women written by a variety of acclaimed authors!

When she was a schoolgirl, Golda Meir stood on a box on a street corner and made speeches about the need for a Jewish homeland. Golda devoted her life to the land that would become Israel, moving rocks and planting trees, arguing with workers, soldiers, and kings. From her childhood in Russia and America to her years as Israel's Prime Minister, Golda worked for her dream of shalom--peace.
* PJ library Books
Lesson Contributors

Rosenfeld Foundation Program in Jewish Education Team