NORTHAMPTON - Miriam Sara (Bergman) Leader, 93, of Northampton, passed away peacefully on the evening of Oct. 5, 2012 after an extended period of gentle decline and a brief illness.
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She was born April 22, 1919, in Chicago to the late Samuel and Freda (Freund) Bergman. She survived the influenza epidemic of 1919 to live a very long, fruitful and creative life.
Raised in Cincinnati, Providence, R.I. and New Rochelle, N.Y., Miriam dropped out of Cedar Crest College and became involved in the Habonim Labor Zionist youth movement, living and working for several years at a Zionist training camp in Creamridge, N.J. This culminated in immigration to Palestine in late 1947 with her husband, Herbert Joseph Leader, and their infant daughter Rosa.
Two years later, they returned to Herbert's native Vermont and joined a back-to-the-land pioneering community with Scott and Helen Nearing before settling down on a small independent farm in Andover, Vt., where two more children, Emmett and Susan were born and raised.
In 1961, the family moved south to Northampton, where Miriam went on to support her family by working at various local institutions of higher learning and the VA hospital. She was able to complete her education and in 1976 received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Massachusetts, where she then worked until her retirement at age 62. Around this time she found her voice as a poet. Over the years, her poetry and prose often found their way to print in the local press.
A violin player since childhood, Miriam renewed her passion for the instrument in the 1980s. She danced, played and sang with several local groups over the years including Higher Help, Hot Kishkes, Makela and Dance Generators. She joined the Young at Heart Chorus in the early 1980s, playing violin in the band, and went on to perform with the chorus locally and worldwide until fracturing her bow arm in a fall several years ago.
Thus began a slow but steady decline. Miriam wished to live at her home until the end and this was made possible by a dedicated group of caregivers and local agencies and the loving support of her family members.
Predeceased by her husband Herbert in 1988, Miriam is survived by her sister Vivian Gladys Bergman of New York, N.Y., by her daughters Rosa Luxemburg Leader Smith and her husband Anthony McLain Smith of Yonkers, N.Y., Susan Leader and her husband John Specker of Andover, Vt., and by her son Emmett Leader and his wife Rebecca Schachter of Northampton. Five granddaughters, Geneva Montana Leader Smith of Albuquerque, N.M., Lila Specker of Ithaca, N.Y., Ida May Specker of Andover, Vt., Rachel Tzvia Schachter Leader and Amalyah Eliora Schachter Leader of Northampton, and by her first great-grandchild, a baby girl, daughter of Lila, born Oct. 4, 2012.
Funeral services were held at Congregation B'nai Israel Synagogue on Prospect Street in Northampton on Oct. 7, 2012. Burial was at the Congregation B'nai Israel Cemetery on North King Street in Northampton.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Congregational B'nai Israel Synagogue. For further information on memorial services please contact the synagogue.
Drozdal Funeral Home of Northampton is in charge of the arrangements. To sign a Guest Book, express condolences, share memories and read other obituaries, go the www.gazettenet.com/obituaries.
Drozdal Funeral Home
120 Damon Road
Northampton, MA 01060
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Oct. 8, 2012