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‘new York is Yours!’ Says Mayor Lindsay in Welcome to Golda Meir

September 30, 1969
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Prime Minister Golda Meir returned to New York today to receive unparalleled welcome from this city’s Jewish community and the official welcome of the City of New York. Before cheering thousands jammed into City Hall Park and hundreds of notables, Mayor John V. Lindsay presented the key to the city to the guest from Israel and gave her the Gold Medal of the City, its highest award.

In making the presentation, Mayor Lindsay declared that “Israel has conquered the desert and defeated it, but today, a single woman has conquered the heart of New York. New York is yours,” he told Mrs. Meir. “Sholem Aleichem!”

Mrs. Meir’s three-day visit to New York began with a tremendous welcome at Kennedy International Airport when she arrived in President Nixon’s plane. Thousands, many of them children, sang, “Haveinu Sholem Aleichem.” as she alighted from the plane to be greeted by Mayor Lindsay as “a gallant woman and a gallant leader.” He hailed her as the representative of the Israeli people — “the men, women, and children of brave, beleaguered Israel.”

Mrs. Meir replied with a tribute to New York as “a haven of refuge” for the Jews from “the tears, fears, humiliation, degradation and death that was the share of Jews in Eastern Europe.” She was near tears when the crowd broke into “Hatikvah” as five young girls each presented flowers to her. She embraced each one.


Intense security precautions were in evidence at the airport and later, at City Hall and the other functions on Mrs. Meir’s crowded schedule. A heavy police escort accompanied the motorcade that sped her from the airport to City Hall. At the United Nations, where Mrs. Meir was the luncheon guest of Secretary-General U Thant, security precautions were so strict that the correspondents accompanying Mrs. Meir’s party were not admitted to the UN Headquarters Building. Crowd control measures were in force around the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel where this afternoon Foreign Minister Abba S. Eban tendered a reception in Mrs. Meir’s honor for members of missions to the United Nations and where, tonight, Mrs. Meir was guest of honor at a banquet tendered by 55 national Jewish organizations.

The major welcoming ceremony was held at City Hall. There before the cheering thousands, city and state notables and leaders of Jewish organizations, Mrs. Meir received the tribute of an admiring city and voiced her thanks. The Premier announced that she brought greetings to New York from “united Jerusalem.” To Mayor Lindsay, she presented a medallion commemorating the reunification and liberation of Jerusalem.

Mrs. Meir recalled her early associations with New York after her father, a carpenter, had earned enough money to bring his family here from Czarist Russia. “The first lesson of what democracy really means, I learned here,” she said. She spoke feelingly of the great opportunities America had offered and stressed that she had left America for Palestine in 1921 neither because she did not like the country nor because of anti-Semitism. It was because she had accepted Zionism and wanted to bring to Palestine “all I learned in this wonderful country.”

Reminiscing about her family’s arrival here as refugees, Mrs. Meir noted proudly that since the establishment of the State of Israel 20 years ago, “for the first time, Jews need not beg anyone to let them in.”

Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller called on Mrs. Meir in her suite at the Waldorf-Astoria this afternoon before the diplomatic reception.


More than 2,700 Jewish leaders, including a Canadian delegation led by Samuel Bronfman, honorary president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, overflowed the Grand Ballroom and two adjoining foyers at the Waldorf-Astoria in American Jewry’s formal tribute tonight to the Israeli leader. Edward Ginsberg, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, and Samuel Rothberg, national campaign chairman of the Israel Bond Organization, served as co-chairmen of the function. Speakers included Abraham Feinberg, president of the Israel Bond Organization; Max M. Fisher, president of the United Israel Appeal, and Rabbi Herschel Schacter, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Mrs. Meir made an extemporaneous reply.

Mr. Ginsberg, who presided over the first half of the program, declared that the purpose of the dinner was to “express our love and admiration for one of the greatest leaders of our people, and by doing so, also express our love and full support for the State and the people of Israel.” He referred to the extermination of six million Jews in World War II and said that “we are here to show in a sense how far Jews have come since those terrible days and how much we have learned since — learned that we can and must rely upon ourselves first — that we can perform miracles — and that we can go on performing them — that there can and shall be a Jewish State — dedicated to justice — to freedom — to human dignity and human opportunity.”


Mr. Rothberg told the assemblage that “Tonight the Jewish people stand at destiny’s door. It has stood at destiny’s door before. But today the key to its fate is in its own hands to a greater degree than ever before. It has never been closer to its goal of freedom and justice. Yet never has it been in greater danger of being deprived of its right to live.”

Mr. Feinberg warned the audience that “we cannot disengage ourselves without the consequences of self-destruction. We dare not separate ourselves without placing the future of Israel in jeopardy. There can be no retreat for Israel without a retreat for us. There can be no defeat for Israel without a defeat for us. We do not intend to retreat and we shall not be defeated.”

In his address, Mr. Fisher cited the Jewish tradition that “each Jew who can is obliged to help others.” He said that “no one observes this tradition with more meaning and more sacrifice than the people of Israel themselves. No one can begin to measure what the Jews of Israel themselves have done to receive, to welcome, and to make a part of the country the 1.5 million refugees who have come in since the State was born.”

Mrs. Meir was introduced by Mr. Rothberg who described her as “the soul of Israel, its courage, its faith, its hopes, its worries and its prayers,” and said that “she stands before the world as the image of the Jew unafraid — challenging the world to give our people the justice and the freedom they demand and they deserve.”

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