Paula Ben-Gurion

Paula Ben-Gurion was the wife of David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of the State of Israel.


Paula Munweis was born in Russia and raised in the United States. She was trained as a nurse at Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey.
David Ben-Gurion met her at the home of his friend, Samuel Bonchek, on a visit to New York City. They married in 1917 at New York City's town hall before returning to Israel where Ben-Gurion enlisted as a soldier in the new Jewish Legion of World War I. Paula was originally against the idea of going to Israel, as her anarchist politics pitted her against both Zionism and state building. Recalling this period Ben Gurion said that she was not a Zionist, she had very little Jewish feeling, she was an American, she was an anarchist. She had no interest in Israel. "America is better, why do we need the land of Israel?"
They had three children, Geula, Amos and Renana.
She was known for her acerbic tongue. She was fluent in Yiddish, English, and Hebrew. A feisty woman, she had no qualms about asking her husband to wash the dishes. She was bemused by her husband's interest in yoga and when his tutor, the famous Moshé Feldenkrais would show up she would say: "Here comes Mr. Hocus Pocus."
Paula is buried with her husband in Midreshet Ben-Gurion in Israel's Negev desert.
In 1958, David Ben-Gurion published his letters to her: Letters to Paula and the Children.

Legacy and commemoration

A number of schools and institutions in Israel are named for her. Leslie Moonves, former president and CEO of CBS Television, is her great-nephew.