Golda’s Balcony

Born in Kiev. Lived in Milwaukee. Died in Jerusalem. These facts alone are enough to pique my curiosity about Golda Meir, the subject of a one-woman play being performed Sun, Jan 23, at the Chandler Center for the Arts.

Golda’s Balcony,” featuring Tovah Feldshuh, will be performed at 3pm. It follows the life and times of Golda Meir — “the Milwaukee schoolteacher who became prime minister of Israel in 1969.”

Meir was born in 1898, and died in 1978. She was Israel’s fourth prime minister, serving during the period of the Yom Kippur War.

Cover of TIME magazine featuring Golda Meir

Sadly, her name is all too unfamiliar to many of our children — and even some parents who were just young children during her time in the Middle East.

But it’s an important name — in modern history, in women’s history, in Jewish history.

This play, by William Gibson, “encapsulates the dramatic story of the birth of Israel in the wake of the Holocaust, and its seemingly endless struggle for peace.”

The balcony referred to in the play isn’t some charming overlook above a country garden. It’s the observation tower in a nuclear arms facility where Meir used to stand and look down on Israel’s nuclear weapons.

Meir was smart and strong, qualities plenty of today’s moms hope to foster and nurture in their own daughters. “Golda’s Balcony” presents a unique opportunity for parents and youth to encounter a bit of history together.

As a working mother, I’m intrigued by what I’ve heard of her struggles with balancing family and career. I find this quote attributed to Meir especially moving…

At work, you think of the children you’ve left at home. At home, you think of the work you’ve left unfinished. Such a struggle is unleashed within yourself, your heart is rent.

Consider for a moment how much time we spend each day looking at vastly different role models — women praised for being thin, for having pearly white teeth, for landing a man (even if he’s a meathead).

I’m grateful for “Golda’s Balcony” and other theater experiences that remind all of us to value substance over superficiality. Whether or not you agree with Meir’s politics, you’ve got to admire her passion.

— Lynn

Note: Consider pairing this theater adventure with at-home readings about Meir and other influential women of the 20th century.

Coming up: Musings on “mature content” musicals, Lynn & Liz get “Next to Normal”

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