GRAPEVINE BY GREER FAY CASHMAN - July 29, 2020
■ AT PROTEA Village on Wednesday, residents and staff will be celebrating the 100th birthday of Phyllis Lader, who grew up in Glasgow, and spent a large part of her life in Britain, where she was involved with WIZO, which this year is also celebrating its 100th anniversary. There was a mutual advance exchange of birthday wishes.
Chief among the guests at Lader’s triple-digit birthday party will be Seyma Lederman, 92, originally from Australia and a fellow Protea Village resident, who celebrated her own birthday in mid-July. The two women are best friends and constantly in each other’s company. Lader has been living at Protea Village since she was 90.
Lader lived in Britain through the trauma of the Second World War, during which period two of her five children were born. Lader hates war because the casualties are usually young people who have barely had a chance to taste life and whose dreams are shattered by a bullet or a bomb. In fact, she spent several years going to schools and speaking out against war.
In Israel, Lader met some of Lederman’s five children and became somewhat of a surrogate mother to them. However, the two women did not meet until 2012, when Lederman and her Australia-based children came to Israel for Passover to celebrate with those of her children and grandchildren who live in Israel.
Lederman had, of course, heard of Lader, and finally met her at the Ra’anana home of her son Elie Lederman. The two women enjoyed each other’s company, and when the time came for Lader to go home, rather than have her daughter pick her up, Elie Lederman insisted on driving her and took his mother along for the ride. Lader was already living in Protea Village, and when Elie tentatively suggested to his mother that she might care to move there, too, she dismissed the idea as totally ridiculous.
Back in Australia, at around Rosh Hashanah, Seyma Lederman had an epiphany and decided that she wanted to live in Israel, and that the only place she was willing to call home was Protea Village. She felt somehow that Lader was calling her. With hindsight, she says it was the best decision she ever made. She loves her daily chats with Lader, and they never run out of conversation.
It’s not certain whether Lader, who is still a British subject, has received the letter sent by the queen to all British subjects on their 100th birthday, but if Lader doesn’t have it yet, she knows it’s on the way.
Centenarian Phyllis Lader congratulates WIZO on its 100th birthday (video courtesy of World WIZO)
See the full Grapevine column here: