Judith Leitner

Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver and Photographer

Join Judith on her extraordinary photographic journey ‘Rosa: A Story of Love and Memory’. She’ll show how the camera becomes a tool for understanding her mother’s illness and how creative expression became her solace.

Judith Leitner is the Director of Arts and a Visual Arts teacher at The Toronto Heschel School. She values the Arts as vital teaching and learning tools in the development of artful thinking. Judith works with teams of teachers and administrators in designing integrative, arts-based curricula.

Judith is an active artist, and has exhibited her photographs in Israel and Canada. Her most recent exhibitions are ‘Rosa: A Story of Love and Memory’ and ‘Tefillat Ha’Derech: A Traveller’s Prayer At Ground Zero’.

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“I vividly remember the moment when I began to capture my mother on film. It was an unusually bright morning in March 1983. At that time my family was anxiously searching for ways to understand my mother’s emergent memory loss. Now and then, she would wander aimlessly in search of a phrase, an address or a memory that had inaudibly slipped away; and then, especially in the presence of my newborn daughter, she could be lucid, agile and motherly. One year later, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and I was about to give birth to my youngest daughter.

I photographed my mother from that morning in March during the next 11 years – at home, during walks in parks and later, in various hospitals as my father fed her. I had found my creative coping mechanism for understanding, confronting and accepting her irrevocable, monumental transformation. For all of us, each frame was an expression of my mother’s dignity in the face of change and of our family’s unconditional love for her.

 

My father was utterly in love with her, Rosa – his wife. He sweetly and mindfully attended to his beloved; his devotion never wavered. She was his heartbeat. We her children, grandchildren and friends delighted in her. She was our safe and healing gathering place. Our mother never forgot to remind us that laughter is an authentic, trustworthy life navigator. We all knew that she saw us with her heart.

 

As always, the camera held my hand. It allowed me to stand back and to step in – the duality of detachment and intimacy. Years earlier, when I was studying the art of photography, my mother would often inquire about `my art’, for she instinctively understood and relied on the power of images. How fitting that Rosa would one day invite my eyes and camera’s lens to memorize this moment in time and perpetuate an exquisite love story.”

 

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