Honoring Those Who Gave All
by Scott Halasz
As part of his Eagle Scout project, Ethan created a database of the 2,500 veterans buried at the 25 Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati. The ultimate intention of the project was to be able to place markers and flags at each of the gravesites.
“We started working with the database,” Ethan said. “We started trying to get markers. We want to get flags before Memorial Day, which was the goal, but not part of the project.”
Close to 1,000 graves have been flagged and marked. About half of the Walnut Hills cemetery was marked last May and another chunk was completed within the last week. And Ethan, a crew of helpers from the Valley Temple Men’s Club as well as some other Cincinnati-area families didn’t let the coronavirus keep them from getting all of the Montgomery cemetery marked recently as well.
Ethan is hoping the job is completely finished by Memorial Day 2021. There are 23 cemeteries left but many are near each other, much like the Temple Israel and Beth Abraham cemeteries in Oakwood, and some may only have one or two graves to mark.
“The markers will stay at the grave forever,” Ethan’s father, Eric, said. They are hoping to have the flags stay up year-round as well, but Mother Nature may have something to say about that.
“We’re certainly experimenting at this point,” Eric said, adding that they will replace any flags annually around Memorial Day.
Ethan’s effort earned him the Dan Beard Council’s Eagle Project of the Year Award. There were more than 350 Eagle Scouts in the 2019 class.
“It’s pretty cool,” Ethan said. “I had a very good feeling. I think my project was pretty solid. Lots of projects aren’t really impactful or meaningful to the scout.”
Many projects are temporary and involve building something that may affect a small group.
“I think mine is meaningful, impactful, long lasting and sustainable,” Ethan said. “I figured it had a pretty good chance of winning.”
While marking graves, Ethan and Eric were approached by cemetery visitors asking what they were doing.
“They were definitely moved by that,” Eric said. “People definitely appreciated it.”
Ethan also received some serious validation from a fellow scout, who had actually been working on a similar project but stopped because he thought it was too difficult.
“When he found out the fact that I won the award, I guess he tried to work on it again,” Ethan said. “That’s pretty neat.”
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.
Get Involved to Engage Voters
Every Voice, Every Vote is a nonpartisan civic engagement campaign bringing the full force of the Reform Jewish Movement to bear on strengthening our democracy by encouraging everyone to participate in the 2020 U.S. election, and ensuring that our Reform Jewish values are present in the public square. This campaign has four prongs: Mobilizing our voters, engaging student voters, combatting voter suppression, and acting on select ballot measures.
Join the Reform Movement’s Civic Engagement Campaign and its Virtual Town Hall on Tuesday, May 19 at 8:00 p.m. Learn how you can move your community into action through a variety of civic engagement efforts so that, together, we can have the greatest impact. We know that democracy is strongest when everyone participates – and it suffers when citizens are shut out from the democratic process or choose not to engage. During this town hall you will hear inspirational stories about the importance of exercising and protecting the right to vote. You will learn how to become involved in the campaign as well as receive resources and training to support your work. Register for the town hall session here.
Special Film Screening
Wednesday, May 20 at 7:00 p.m.
Join CET, ThinkTV, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton and Temple Israel on May 20 at 7:00 p.m. for an advance online screening of a new documentary, Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations. This documentary explores the recent rise in antisemitism, which is increasing in ways not seen since the 1930s. Hear firsthand accounts from victims, witnesses and others who have experienced it. The film makes it clear that hate, like a virus, thrives with a receptive human host. Stay with us after the film for a Q&A panel discussion, including the filmmaker, Andrew Goldberg, and Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz from Temple Israel, Dayton.
Be sure to check your email!
Together We Thank Our Teachers
On Friday, May 1, we honored our teachers and madrichim for the amazing role they have played in shaping the Jewish identities of our youth. This year has proven even harder than others with the sudden disruption from the COVID-19 outbreak. We are forever thankful for their continued creativity to engage our students in learning. Enjoy a short video from Rabbi Tina Sobo with musical guest, Grant Halasz, as they thank and honor our educators.