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Marilyn Fenster slipped quietly into retirement at the end of the last school year. Marilyn had an impressive teaching style, sharing her love for the students, past and present, as well as a huge commitment to Harley. Marilyn (along with Kim Bednarcyk P ’16, Lower School 1981 – present) also partnered with the Development Office as a Lower School faculty representative for the Harley Fund for years. No matter when you saw her, she had a smile on her face. Marilyn sent out an update to friends and we asked her if I could share it:

Hello family and friends,

As 2021 comes to a close, I am writing a not so brief update to fill you in on our comings and goings.

I retired this past summer after a very happy 37 years of teaching at The Harley School–31 in K-1, five in special education, and last year as a remote educator for grades K-3–a hard, challenging, but oddly rewarding year as I found ways to connect with kids via screens. Retirement was not an easy decision for me, but it was the right one. I want to see my grandchildren and children more. I have been advised not to take on too much until I learn how to BE retired–plus I have a big house to empty and a townhouse to make a home. Remy sold his customer list to a printing business in Rochester that wanted to add promotional items. He works for them now. He keeps busy, as always. He still sells honey at the public market, sings in his choir at Eastman School of Music (Covid carefully) and is on the board of a community partnership that provides transportation to people our age–I guess we are senior citizens or whatever the new buzz word is used now. 

Several months in 2021 gave us the opportunity to see Jason and Gavi’s two beautiful sons (being a Bubbie is the BEST) more than in 2020. They are still living in Illinois. Jason is in his 5th year as Associate Rabbi at a lovely congregation. They love him, but we wished they lived closer–13 hours door to door, but worth every mile and minute. Benjamin (4 in December) and Henry (almost 23 months–2 in Feb) are adorable, verbal, musical, funny, and smart. We keep in touch via Tiny Beans photos and videos, Face Times several times a week, and Friday night candles, wine and challah Zooms before Jason has to conduct services. Gavi is teaching Kindergarten at a day school. Her educational philosophies are near and dear to my progressive heart. Remy and I read stories to the kids and “play” with toys we have in their toy box in our living room–I am grateful for these opportunities via FaceTime.

The arrival of Maya Isabelle to Aaron and Lana on December 5 brought joy to all of us. She is a teeny little bundle–and beautiful! We spent some careful time in DC getting to know her. Covid made going out or seeing others impossible during our visit. Aaron is COO of a nonprofit in Maryland and Lana works in communications.

 I am still very active at our synagogue, volunteer in the community when Covid allows, edit the NCJW bulletin for our Rochester chapter, and recently joined  a board that oversees a summer program for urban youth. ( I taught and did some admin stuff for 26 summers in the program.) I am guardedly exploring some new opportunities–mindful of the advice given to me by those retired wise ones. The board I recently joined tugged at my heartstrings. 

Cataract surgery last winter allows me the opportunity to wear glasses only for driving and close work after wearing glasses for 60 years!

This past year brought sorrows and joys–saying goodbye to some very dear friends who passed and celebrating milestones and simchas via Zoom. Remy turned 65 on December 28–yay for Medicare! He does not, however, let me forget that I am older. We celebrated 39 years in November. 

Hope you are not too bored by all of this. I am terrible at keeping in touch, but love you all.

I hope your holiday celebrations were joyous, and wish you and yours a happy, HEALTHY, peaceful new year.

Love, Marilyn Fenster

After emailing with Marilyn about this, she sent along a few more updates: I joined the Horizons at Harley Board! Just an FYI that I taught at Harley from 1975-80, spent 9 years as a career counselor, missed teaching, and returned in 1989 to the same classroom I left in 1980. My first year of teaching was in the old building!