Jennifer Mollenhauer

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.

Look for the Helpers!

Spotlight on Sharon Gitman

Sharon Gitman with her grandson, Boe.

Born in Dayton, Sharon Gitman grew up as the youngest of four children, and the only daughter.  Both of her parents were physicians and they lived at the corner of Salem and Princeton.  Unfortunately, tragedy struck this happy young family early when Sharon’s father passed away when she was just six months old.  Her mother soldiered on with her three sons and only daughter, and the family found a spiritual home at Temple Israel.  Sharon was confirmed at Temple on Salem Ave, and when reflecting on her early life, she says that she feels “fortunate to have grown up in [her] family and in the time [she] did.”  She made her career in the public sector and in human resources, a “people person” in all respects.  When not under a “stay at home” order, she loves spending time with her twin daughters, eight grandchildren, and great grandson as well as finding time for friends, the beach and taking in nature.  One thing you may be surprised to find out is that she has a secret love of hip hop music and rap!  
As we are all coping with this COVID-19 pandemic, we find new strength within ourselves.  Sharon has learned that she can stay busy during the quarantine, and she has put her time to good use.  An early member of Temple’s Caring Committee, Sharon joined the efforts of this group to reach out to all of the members of our congregation, via phone or email.  Sometimes all you need is a reassuring voice on the other end of a telephone or a little note from someone you know to believe that you are not alone. We are so fortunate to have a dedicated and compassionate individual like Sharon who thinks of others during this time of crisis.   When it comes down to it, Sharon says, “what do I like? – life and people.”  Thank you, Sharon, for your contribution to our community 

Temple Israel is looking for helpers of all ages to fulfill the important mitzvah of gemilut chasidim, loving kindness.  Find out more.