Alyssa Muhlendorf to receive 2017 Henry B. Kaufmann Award

by | Mar 31, 2017 | What’s Happening

Sunday, April 23, Ohef Sholom Temple
Brunch: 10:30 am—Award presentation: 11 am

For more than 35 years, Ohef Sholom Temple Men’s Club has bestowed the Henry B. Kaufmann Award upon a congregant who has demonstrated outstanding service to the temple and the community. The award is named for Henry B. Kaufmann, an accountant by trade, who was extremely active in synagogue and community life. In 1980, the Men’s Club established this memorial in his honor.

This year, the Men’s Club’s award recipient is Alyssa Muhlendorf.

Born in Michigan, Muhlendorf moved extensively throughout her childhood. In 1999, she received a bachelor’s degree in politics and government. In 2001, she received a master’s degree in international relations and in 2010, another master’s, this time in social work. Muhlendorf has worked for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee of International Relations Subcommittee on Africa and for an international human rights organization. Upon moving to Norfolk she shifted careers from politics to social work and was employed at Jewish Family Service. She attributes her work at JFS, and her positive experiences with Rabbi Roz Mandelberg, in making the decision to convert to Judaism.

Muhlendorf is married to Jonathan Muhlendodorf who owns a wealth management firm. His parents, Diane and Ken Muhlendorf, are longtime members of Ohef Sholom. Jonathan and Alyssa Muhlendorf are the proud parents of two young children, Nyla and Elijah, who both attend Hebrew Academy of Tidewater.

Crediting her volunteer spirit to her role models, her parents, Muhlendorf says that, “In addition to working hard as employees, they always had a volunteer passion project that improved the local community. My goals are always to connect people, and bring meaning, while striving for excellence.”

Muhlendorf has chaired, or co-chaired, numerous temple committees, including Interfaith and Outreach, Young Adult Community, Caring, Nominating, Membership, and Development. In 2009, she was elected to OST’s board of directors.

As for community involvement, Muhlendorf introduced the Mothers Circle to the Tidewater Jewish community. The program is designed for mothers who are not Jewish, but have a Jewish partner, or who have chosen Judaism as an adult. It empowers mothers who seek to increase their understanding of Jewish values and traditions. As a result of this course, many participants increased their activities with the Jewish community by enrolling their children in Jewish schools and leading their families to affiliate with synagogues.

An environmentalist at heart, Muhlendorf cites Genesis to explain that Jews are mandated to be good stewards of the Earth. With that in mind, she became OST’s leader of environmental action programs by forming the Eco-Judaism Subcommittee. Some of the work the subcommittee has done includes signing up more than 75 households as Bay Saver Homes, hosting an informational event at the Brock Environmental Center (the first Jewish organization to do so), and working toward having Ohef Sholom achieve national certifications in environmental stewardship.

Other community activities include serving on United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Israel & Overseas Committee, as a past board member of the Simon Family JCC, member of the JCC child and family committee, parent volunteer at Hebrew Academy, and volunteer at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Alyssa Muhlendorf is the personification of the spirit of the Kaufmann Award.

Admission is $10 per person. Reserve a space by calling the Temple office at 625-4295.