Elaine Leeder: The Daymare: Memory and Remembrance


I was really  surprised  to realize that my November 19, 2015 Wise Woman Storytime show was only my 8th time on the air. I actually joined the “herd” (there’s a lot of KOW humor), in August when I was trained. Usually each DJ gets one training session, but not me. With my only prior radio experience being turning the radio on and off AND setting the stations in my car to my favorite ones,  I requested  a couple more sessions.  When the time came for my first show on September 18th, one of the members of the Steering Committee most graciously showed up and guided me through. Thank you Donald!

I LOVE the whole experience of doing the show.  It’s been fun and yes, challenging to learn how to work the boards. It’s an orchestration of moving the levers up and down, phasing music in and out, making sure the show is being recorded and that the sound is adjusted correctly.  I learn by my mistakes.  They are great teachers. And the lessons keep coming. I’m grateful that I’ve let go of my need to be perfect. THAT is a wonderful gift for this recovering perfectionist.

The BEST PART of the show though, is meeting the incredible elderwomen who good-naturedly and so generously agree to join me on Wise Women Storytime to share their stories. Before any show airs, I have already had several conversations with my guest. My main goal is to know what the story is about so that I may be better prepared. I look for music that matches the theme of the story. I do my own research on the topic  and I formulate what I hope are interesting and thoughtful questions that I may or may not use. It just depends on what emerges for me as I listen live.

My guest this past week was Elaine Leeder. Elaine is a professor/teacher, psychotherapist, consultant, author and advocate for social justice who has had a long and distinguished career. The many awards and honors she has received give testimony to her many achievements. While she considers the raising of her daughter Abigail to be her greatest achievement, I would venture to say that her 59 year challenge of overcoming what is known as the intergenerational transmission of trauma, is yet another major accomplishment to add to the already long list.

Elaine’s father, Zalman Sneierson was a refugee of the Holocaust. While he left Lithuania shortly before the outbreak of war, the rest of his family wasn’t so fortunate.  Elaine’s parents never told their children what happened to their Lithuanian relatives.  Elaine’s story begins when she was 11 years old.  At that time  she began to manifest the family horrors in frightening and terrifying episodes that lasted most of her life. This set the stage for the emotional, personal and professional trajectory of her life.

This is a deeply personal journey that ultimately brings Elaine face to face with the atrocities perpetuated against most Jews of Lithuania and specifically to her family in the small town of Kupiskis. Most importantly, it’s a story about Elaine’s triumph of the human spirit and her courageous path to finding inner peace through hard work, facing her fears and ultimately letting go.

Elaine’s story was somewhat abbreviated for the radio show.  You are invited to contact Elaine at leeder@sonoma.edu for a complimentary copy of her story.

By Roberta Teller