Posted on February 13th, 2014

Why I Joined Ziknay NATE

By Harriet Levine

Vice-President, Ziknay NATE


This past June I retired from my position of 21 years as Director of Education at Woodlands Community Temple.  I had been involved in secular education since graduating from college in 1957, and in religious education since 1973. As a religious school teacher, I relied on my director to make decisions regarding curriculum, materials, and scheduling.  I didn’t have to worry about budgeting or hiring or working with the school board.  My only concerns were how to make my classroom attractive, my lessons interesting, and how to keep my students involved.

Upon receiving my Masters in Religious Education from HUC-JIR in New York, working first as a Family Educator, and ultimately as a Director of Education, I found my situation very different.  I certainly needed more guidance than that of the long-term teacher who told me “this is what we’ve always done.”  My membership and involvement in ARJE became invaluable as I learned that I could rely on my colleagues who were living each day with the same concerns and challenges that I had.  Over the years my professional life, and personal one as well, was richer because of my ARJE membership.

I’m now at a different stage of my life.  I’m no longer responsible for the education of hundreds of adults and children.  As I began to look toward retirement, I found that there were others who had gone through the same thing, had the same questions, and needed to make the same decisions.  Just as ARJE involvement was helpful during my career, I have found that involvement with those in Ziknay ARJE has the same benefits.  And although each retiree has a different experience as we leave our final workplace, the sharing of ideas about how to handle this next phase of our lives has been very valuable. Whether we spend our time volunteering, traveling, working in a different capacity, babysitting our grandchildren, worshipping in the same or a different synagogue, or just “vegging,”  there is a group of men and women, now Ziknay NATERS, who have gone through this and are ready and willing to share how they handled these same issues.  Ziknay NATE  is becoming more important in my life as it connects me to my profession as a Jewish educator, in whatever way I choose to continue that work.  And, most important, our Ziknay NATERS  are all really nice people!