Freyda Sanders trained for jobs in a number of fields, but her experience teaching girls in a juvenile detention center led her to her life's work in adolescent psychology. Sanders originally studied chemical engineering before getting a degree in labor economics from Columbia. But there were no jobs open to her in the field as a Jewish woman. Instead, she began teaching and earned a masters degree in education from Harvard. She took a teaching job at the Bergen County children's detention center, working with girls who had committed offenses and were waiting for court appearances. Finding that the most important thing the girls needed from her was a listening ear, Sanders began studying psychology and earned another degree, beginning a twenty-year career as a school psychologist.
Sanders describes her upbringing by Russian-born parents and the socialist and Zionist activism that ensued from her household, as well as their constant moving around the country. She then recounts her numerous jobs, including chemical engineer, nursery teacher, case worker, teacher at Bergen County Children's shelter, and school psychologist; interspersed with her careers were educational achievements. Freyda's childhood and her work with children encouraged her to join Hadassah for nine years, where she became the President. Freyda's work in Hadassah created a stronger connection to her Jewish identity and the Jewish identity she passed on to her children. Sanders reflects on her trip back to Russia, where parts of her parents' families still live. She then reflects on her mother's impact on her life and her socialist tendencies.
How to cite this page
Oral History of Freyda Sanders. Interviewed by Judith Rosenbaum. 12 July 2000. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 3, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/sanders-freyda>.
Oral History of Freyda Sanders by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.