Lillian Judd: From Nightmare to Freedom: Healing from the Holocaust

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It’s impossible for me to wrap my head around the cruelty that humans are capable of. In the past 150 years, tens of millions of men, women and children have lost their lives in genocides and mass atrocities.  Millions have been separated from loved ones, tortured, raped, starved, demeaned, and lost everything after being forced from their hones and land. Think of our own Native Americans, the Armenians, the Jews of Europe, and the people of Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur who have been innocent victims of political, racial, and religious  hatred. And it doesn’t stop!. Right now, the people of Burma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria and Syria are threatened and living in terrible peril. 

Of my recent guests on KOWS 107.3FM, Wise Woman Storytime, almost half of the elderwomen have been actual survivors of the Holocaust or the children of Holocaust refugees or survivors.  As a Jewish woman who grew up in New York, I am fortunate that no one in my immediate family was subjected to these atrocities. Over the years, I have studied world history, seen the movies and read the books, but nothing prepared me for the impact of these first hand accounts.

This was especially true for me when I had the privilege of meeting and reading and then hearing the story of Lillian Judd, a survivor of Auschwitz. 

Born in 1923, the young Lilly enjoyed a happy life in a loving family. Life was never very easy in Uzhorod, Czechoslavakia, but the family worked hard, grew much of their food and wore the clothing their mother was skilled at making.

But life changed in 1938 and became progressively more difficult once her home country of Czechoslovakia was handed over to Germany and the Hungarian Army marched into her home town of Uzhorod.  Anti-semitism raged, young boys were sent to forced labor camps, many disappeared, women had to make choices between food and warm clothing for their families and all work by Jews had to be done without a work permit.  Heaven help the one who was reported to the authorities.  

In 1944, the Jews were removed from their homes and forced to live in an old brick factory. The lucky ones got to live in the open stalls. Those less fortunate scrounged for materials to build a shelter for their families. After 6 weeks of little food and water, the Klein family, along with others were marched to the train station and crowded into box cars with no light, food, water or toilets.  Four days later they arrived at Auschwitz.

What is amazing about Lillian’s story is how she not only survived one of the world’s most heinous atrocities, but much more so, how she has healed herself and at 91 years of age is still working tirelessly to make sure that she does everything she can to speak about the Holocaust as an opportunity to educate, inform and help stop current and future genocides.

By telling her story in her book From Nightmare to Freedom: Healing from the Holocaust, she was able to shed the dark cloud that suffocated her for much of her life. With every chapter, she was able to let go of the past and became lighter and freer. 

I invite you to listen to her story and to check out her book From Nightmare to Freedom: Healing After the Holocaust.  You can find the book at her website or on Amazon. 

By Roberta Teller

 

Elaine B Holtz: An Ordinary Woman Doing Extraordinary Things

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One of the greatest gifts for me from hosting Wise Woman Storytime on KOWS 107.3FM is that I get to meet and get to know some really wonderful women. Elaine B Holtz exemplifies this so well.

A first generation American, Elaine’s life story is an evolution from a sheltered child living in a homogenous Jewish community to a social activist who lives, works and thrives in a global society. Once the shy college student terrified of public speaking, today, Elaine hosts both a radio and TV show called Women’s Spaces interviewing politicians, fellow activists, artists, healers, writers and musicians. She is an author, a poet and currently serves Sonoma County with her service on the Community Advisory Board and the Human Rights Commision.

With a strong commitment for women’s rights, social justice, children, peace and the environment, Elaine B. Holtz is a spokesperson and visionary for those whose voices may be stifled or perhaps needs a platform to speak from. And while she says her radio show is “dedicated to ordinary women doing extraordinary things,”  she is the shining light giving them the spotlight.

By Roberta Teller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Somewhere Towards the End: A Book Review

Somewhere Towards the End is an honest, realistic, thoughtful and beautifully written memoir that speaks to what it’s like to be old from the perspective of the then octogenarian (close to 90 years old) author Diana Athill.  Sometimes philosophical, often personal, this unsentimental, raw, candid and unapologetic,  free thinking and unconventional author recounts her experiences and views about children (and not having them), sex (even after 60), relationships, death, luck, authors whom she admires, and religion. 

While Somewhere Towards the End speaks to the diminishments of old age, it really is a testament to the potential gifts of these years and the opportunities and possibilities that one can experience as we grow older.

One cannot read this memoir without deep gratitude and appreciation to this feisty, cut to the chase, witty woman. Don’t expect any proselytizing or soap box wisdom. What you get is straight talk, a gutsy look at elder life and a chance to get a glimpse into the life of this remarkable, thoughtful and free thinking spirit. 

I loved this book and plan to read parts of it again and share it with women of all ages. My only regret is that I more than likely won’t get to meet this now 97 year old English woman in this lifetime. And while she may not believe in reincarnation, hey, you never know…….And just in case, she does have a few other memoirs out there. 

By Roberta Teller

Check out my Facebook Wise Woman Wisdom page.

 

 

When is Enough Enough…….A Conversation with Maxine Lachman

 

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Most of my blog posts about wise Woman Storytime  have detailed my challenging journey as the “new kid on the block” programmer and show host for Wise Woman Storytime. Over the past 7 months, I’ve shared with you the trials, tribulations and successes of my new adventure. And while my path to (no such thing as) perfection is never ending, with much more learning (translation screw ups) to be had, I think it’s time for me to share a little bit about this gem of a station I’m now a part of. 

KOWS 107.3FM is a LOCAL community radio station serving the heart of west Sonoma County (CA).  We are funded by our individual members and local sponsors. who keep us on the air. We broadcast  24/7 from the serene and bucolic town of Occidental and can be streamed online all over the world.  There are over 70 dedicated local hosts who volunteer their time  and give so much of themselves to bring you a show they really, really care about. So what might you find on KOWS?  You will find a rich mixture of all kinds of music…..world, retro, jazz, rock, contemporary, soul, blues, Renaissance and Baroque…….to name a few.  You will be privy to great conversations with local politicians, musicians and people in the healing arts. You will get to listen to thoughtful and provocative discussions about growing old, indigenous people, and environmental and political issues. You will have the option to hear stories, learn about astrology and laugh, relax and feel good.

If you’d like to be a part of the herd and help us moove towards our goal of raising $30,000 for a new antennae I  invite you to become one of our sponsors or members…….just click on the link……It’s that simple.

Now about today’s show……….

What happens when you’re a 59 year old woman, who has been in the same job for 12 years and suddenly you’re told that you no longer have the relevant skills for the job you thought you were really good at?  Add to that, the recent death of your mother, your personal concerns and financial worries about your father’s worsening dementia and a series of unexpected life circumstances that puts you out of your home and literally shakes you to your core.

In Maxine Lachman’s case, all these circumstance led to a deep inquiry into her early childhood scripts about money, an investigation into finance and retirement planning  an exploration of what is REALLY important and a search for an understanding of what is enough.  How do we know if we have enough and when is enough enough?

Max has some very important answers……..Enjoy!

By Roberta Teller

 

GAEL CHANDLER: HOLD ONTO YOUR DREAMS – AN AUTHOR’S STORY

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Wise Woman Storytime is a personal journey for me.  Each show, I am blessed with the presence of an amazing woman willing to take time from her busy life to share her story . Every show continues to be a learning experience for me.  As you may remember from previous posts, being at a small local radio station, the DJ/host is responsible for working the boards which includes recording the show, playing the music, and making sure that the correct microphones are in use at the right times. It’s an orchestration of phasing in and phasing out – multi-tasking  as you coordinate it all. For someone with NO background in radio and a limited techy repertoire, this has been a challenge. But, like anything else in my world, it’s the challenges that take me to greater places.

On January 15, 2015, I had the privilege and honor of having my friend and author, Gael Chandler as a guest on Wise Woman Storytime.  Even though I’ve known Gael now for about 4 1/2 years and we’ve shared many of our stories and experiences, the pieces of her professional life really came together for me today as she took us on her journey from that third grade girl who declared that she wanted to be a writer,  to the published author she is today.

To me, manifesting a book is a great feat.  Not only do you have to have an idea, a vision of what you want to say, you have to have the discipline and focus to do it. While I am very organized and can become extremely focused, words don’t just flow out of me when I write. I consider myself a “functional” writer – one who can get the job done, but  one who labors over words, sentences and paragraphs, writing and rewriting many times before I’m satisfied with the end result.

So, you can say that I was most intrigued to hear how Gael actually gets her books written: how she organizes herself, her days and how she pushes through the stumbling blocks and challenges.

The author now of 4 books, Film Editing: Great Cuts Every Filmmaker and Movie Lover Must Know, two editions of Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video and her latest book Chronicles of San Francisco: Discovering the Historic City by the Bay, Gael is now contemplating moving from the world of non fiction to writing her next book with a more personal and biographical slant.  Additionally, she is now creating book trailers for her fellow authors at Pictureyourbook.com.

Enjoy Gael’s story and remember to follow YOUR dreams.

By Roberta Teller

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wise Woman Storytime: Frieda Ferrick Storyteller and Poet

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It’s November 20, 2014 and I am jazzed about my 5th show, Wise Woman Storytime on KOWS 107.3FM.  Finally, I feel like I have mastered – okay – maybe mastered is a bit hyperbolic – but I really feel confident about working the boards, fading the music in and out, and getting the show recorded right from the beginning. (If you are unfamiliar with my previous radio adventures, orchestrating the myriad of electronic levers necessary for each show resulted in my not getting a couple of my shows recorded from the beginning). Today I  feel confident that I can manage it all – even the phone system so I can take live calls while on the air.

And so here I am…….feeling confident, prepared and ready to have the best show ever.  I have a great guest with a meaningful and important story. I am excited with my musical selections. I researched music that complemented today’s story and I included a brief overview of the historical significance of the people, the orchestra and what makes this music so special.

But, alas, sometimes there are glitches…..you know, mechanical failures that just happen. Cars don’t start, computers get viruses and household appliances stop working. Things break down, errors occur that all the planning in the world just can’t stop from happening. And wouldn’t you know, 36 minutes into the show an error sign appeared in the window of the recording device.  The CD player stopped recording. Had I been more skilled, I would have immediately removed the CD and put in a new one instead of pressing the play button, which never did restart the recording   Had I been more experienced, I would have backed up the show with one of those online sites that records shows……But I didn’t do this……I just didn’t know.

So it is with a very sad heart that I must tell you that the last 18 minutes of the show was not recorded. And while I cannot recreate the conversation, emotional tenor, poetry and music that aired, I am going to do my very best to fill in the gaps and give you some of the flavor of the story and the woman telling it.

My guest this week is Frieda Ferrick. Through poetry and prose, Frieda tells her story of coming to America and growing up as the youngest daughter of Holocaust survivors.  Children of Holocaust survivors live in a world with a contradictory reality.  There are unspoken messages and expectations that get passed down; questions needing answers yet knowing instinctively not to ask; horrific secrets to be uncovered, yet not wanting to upset one’s parents; and overprotective children who never want to create more stress and upset to their family.

Frieda describes herself and her sister Chana as “junior detectives piecing together our parents’ history one segment at a time.”

Max and Sophie Lazar suffered the indignities and abuses of the Nazi occupiers. They were rounded up and forced to live with other Jews in the cordoned off and overcrowded  quarters in Lodz, Poland  for years before being shipped off to concentration camps. Both Max and Sophie lost parents, siblings, cousins and in Max’s case, his first  wife and children. They met in Europe after the war and immigrated to the United States in the early 1950’s with their two young children, Frieda and Chana.

Frieda grew up in a close knit group of Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors who became the Lazar’s extended family. Although surrounded by love, the absence of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins left Frieda with a feeling that something was missing from her life. Books and make believe games were a source of sustenance throughout her early years.

At age 16, in the 11th grade, Frieda was encouraged to share her writings and she has been writing ever since. Her book, Stories My Family Could Not Tell is coming out this December. It is a compilation of Holocaust and family of origin poems, philosophical musings and prayers for peace,

Frieda’s story is an important one. It is a story of historical magnitude…..a story of survival amidst one of the world’s most darkest hours. It is a story of courage and resilience and perseverance to go on and to create out of the ashes of destruction and despair. It is a story about people – ordinary people who live extraordinary lives.

To Max and Sophie Lazar who lost so much and created more…….who started new lives in a foreign country learning the language and raising a family:

To Sophie  shy and reticent to talk about her past, who stood up and spoke out (check out her interview) when Holocaust deniers were making outrageous claims that the Holocaust never happened:

To Bronislaw Huberman who helped 1,000 Jewish musicians escape from Nazi occupied Europe and brought them to Palestine to perform in his newly created Palestine Symphony Orchestra, now The Israeli Philharmonic..

To Frieda Ferrick, for sharing her deeply personal story of growing up the child of Holocaust survivors, her philosophical musings, her poems for peace and her deep love for her husband, sons and grandsons.

And to all of you who live your lives doing what is right and just…….

I say thank you………

By Roberta Teller

 

 

 

 

 

Wise Woman Storytime: Debby Meagher Tells Her Story

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I have just completed my fourth radio show on KOWS 107.3FM, THE community radio station for west Sonoma County. I will admit that  I am getting better and better with the technology and even more importantly, I’m learning to orchestrate the myriad tasks that need to come together harmoniously for a polished show.

And there is good news to celebrate and some bad news to learn from.

Let me start on the down side. The bad news is that I forgot to push the play button right at the beginning of this show so I didn’t record my introduction.  The good news is that I did remember to press play just before my guest started her story. So, trying to save face, I have come up with a couple of solutions to the missing segment.  For those so inclined, I have written out the introduction below and you can read it……OR, you can listen to the recorded intro at the END of the show…….OR, you can do both……Your choice.

My guest today is Debby Meagher an extraordinary woman who has made a choice to live her life from her heart and to embrace the world with a joyful, positive approach to living. Debby sees problems not as dead ends but as opportunities for change. She believes fears can be overcome by pushing through and not avoiding them and she has learned not to believe everything she thinks, but rather to listen to the wisdom of her heart as her guide and best friend.

Debby Meagher is one of the most authentic people I have ever met. What she says, she lives. Her actions and lifestyle are mirrors to her words. She says what she believes and lives in accordance with her principles. Debby is an amazing business woman. Twenty-two years ago she opened  Coffee Catz, Sebastopol’s local community based coffee house that has regular music, regular inspirational talks, all kinds of festivities, local events, great food (mostly organic) and its’ own roasted coffee. She recently created the Center for More JOY in Klamath Falls,  Oregon and coming soon is CONSCIOUS AGING: GLAM CAMMPING.

Did I say that Debby is creative, innovative and makes her dreams a reality?

I hope you enjoy the show and that perhaps some of Debby’s life lessons will either remind you of ones you may have forgotten and/or be of inspiration for you to explore.

THE INTRODUCTION

Debby was born February 2nd in 1950 in Monterey Park, CA. She grew up in Palos Verdes   CA and went to Rolling Hills High School.  When she became pregnant in her last year of high school, she dropped out of school and married Marty Meagher.  They had two beautiful girls.

Debby attended night school and by the time she was 20 years old she had her high school diploma.

Debby had reached the place in her life of living “the American dream” – the beautiful home where she had always wanted to live, a great husband, two fabulous kids – but she wasn’t happy and couldn’t figure out why.  She was divorced by the time she was 27 years old.

And that’s where her journey of self discovery began.  The path has been one of many trials and tribulations.  It has been a journey of exploration and confrontation; of honesty, introspection and pushing out of her comfort zones including acknowledging at 40 years of age that she had had a drinking problem since she was 18 years old and deciding that this wasn’t how she wanted to continue to live her life.  And doing something about it…….

Debby Meagher is the owner of Coffee Catz.  She has been in this business for 22 years in Sebastopol, CA.  She is the creator of The Center for More JOY in Klamath Falls, Oregon. And coming soon to this area is CONSCIOUS ADVENTURE: GLAM CAMPING.

I’ve known Debby now for about 2 years. She is truly one of the most amazing, thoughtful, and happiest people I have ever met.  It is with great pleasure that I introduce Debby Meagher to you to share her personal journey of how she overcame addiction, confronted her unhappiness and created a life of joy for herself and others.

By Roberta Teller

Wise Woman Storytime: The Radio Show Presents Sophia Legend

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I am so happy and proud to present my very first radio show.  As you may remember, I had this idea to take my Wise Woman Storytime events one step further.  My vision was to create a greater platform for older women to tell their stories to a larger audience. I found my venue at KOWS 107.3FM a local west Sonoma County community radio station.  It took some training – there were 3 sessions- and I still have a lot to learn. There were some glitches like a phone beeping off the hook and maybe some dead air time – so be patient and don’t forget to smile……….But for someone whose only prior experience with radio was pressing the on button and selecting the stations, you could say, “I’ve come a long way, Baby.” 

You see, on KOWS, each host is also her own engineer.  The host is not only responsible for the content of the show, the host is also, as my mother used to say, the chief, cook and bottle washer or I guess more professionally, you’re called the engineer.  You burn your own CD if you want to record your show.  You answer the phones, and you phase your personally selected music in and out as you move from segment to segment.  Basically, you are multi-tasking – which can become second nature when you KNOW what your’e doing, but can be a bit daunting when you’re just starting out.  

So I did it…….I got through my first show with a little help from a member of the herd (yes, there is all this KOW humor), AND I got to host a great story and conversation with my first guest, Sophia Legend.  

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SOPHIA LEGEND is an amazing woman.  Through this story and the subsequent conversation, you will hear how this soon to be 70 year old woman is learning to let go of the childhood and societal conditioning that has defined her for most of her life and  how she is now on her journey to embracing her deepest and truest authentic being.  Listen to how the power of letting go of beliefs and assumptions and expectations and attachments about who she was and how she was supposed to be, led to Sophia’s inner true voice emerging as a guide to her own self-discovery and path to freedom.

 By Roberta Teller

 

Wise Woman Storytime: The Radio Show

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I am so proud and happy to announce that I will be hosting Wise Woman Storytime: The Radio Show for the first time on Thursday, September 18, 2014 from 12-1pm on  KOWS 107.3 FM. The show was created as an antidote to a common theme I keep hearing as I talk to older women: Many aging women feel invisible and unheard. Ours is not only a youth oriented culture that does not honor, respect and revere elders, we are a society that is losing the history and stories from those who came before us.  We are a culture that undermines and diminishes the value of our elders and we fail to tap into, to encourage, listen and to promote our elders legacies, insights, and gifts. This is especially true for women.

On the third, fourth and fifth Thursdays of each month a cadre of local women will be spotlighted and given a public voice to share a personal story from their lives. Each guest will be given uninterrupted time to tell her story.  Afterwards, I will facilitate a discussion and the listening audience is invited and encouraged to call in and participate.

The show can be streamed live at  http://kows107-3.org/.

Please tune in and support our sisters. If you are a 55+ woman with a story to tell or you know someone who might be interested, please contact me atwomenownyourcrone@gmail.com.  

Remember, we can change the world one story at a time.

 By Roberta Teller