Teacher, Dancer, and Nature Lover
by Courtney Cummings
We sat down with Jennifer Mollenhauer to learn a little more about her life outside of Temple Israel. Jennifer began teaching Jewish dance at Temple’s religious school when Rabbi Bodney-Halasz was developing new curriculum for the school. The material was something that Jennifer loved, so she continued to teach for 15 years, finding joy in all of the ways that the students connected to the class and seeing which aspects of the movement inspired them the most. Her life began in Northern Virginia, and when she was in high school, Jennifer had the chance to study dolphin behavior at the Dolphin Research Lab in Grassy Key, Florida. It was a truly unique experience and one that she cherishes to this day. Her love of nature takes her and her husband of 26 years, David, out on hikes to different parks, and (when permitted) travel. When asked about her dream travel destination, Jennifer said, “I want to go see the Mach Loop in the United Kingdom where jet fighters fly through the mountains at high speed.” That would certainly be a sight and sound to hold.
An art lover at heart, she delights in attending the ballet and the opera, but also finds a creative outlet in decorating her house and creating flower arrangements. This quarantine period has shown Jennifer that she was already home a lot and appreciates her time with family. One thing that she thinks people would be surprised to know is that she really hates mushrooms. (So don’t offer her any!)
Looking back on her teaching time at Temple, she laughs at a moment when one of the older grade students quoted her choreography instructions as they performed Tzaddik Katamar on the bimah. One might say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, and it’s always nice to share a little laugh together.
Thank you, Jennifer, for your service to our Religious School and for infusing all of our students with the movements and steps of our people. This embodiment and expression of Judaism is something they can carry with them wherever they go.