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Dr. Kathleen Kahn Mahon interview, December 3, 2018: transcript






In 1980, Sunrise Hospital was looking to provide specialized services for pediatrics. They recruited a young pediatric ophthalmologist named Dr. Kathleen Melanie Kahn Mahon. Intrigued by the opportunity to relocate to Las Vegas, Dr. Mahon became one of the first female pediatric ophthalmologists in the city. Dr. Mahon is a highly accomplished pediatric ophthalmologist: Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Fellow of the American Academy of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Medicine. Raised in Santa Fe, Dr. Mahon is the family historian and recalls parts of the family’s ancestral history through the generations. She speaks of her family’s Jewish immigration from Germany and Austria, and a deep historical legacy in New Mexico, which can be traced to the 1800s. As the Mahon family settled into southern Nevada, community involvement was a high priority for her. Among the local organizations that she devoted much of her time to were the Rotary Club, Ronald McDonald House, and Junior League. Dr. Mahon and her husband William were early members of Congregation Ner Tamid. She recalls both her and her son’s b’nai mitzvahs held at the synagogue. She includes anecdotes of enjoying Las Vegas -- stories that range from knowing respected banker Selma Bartlett to the famous Nat Hart from Caesars Palace.

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Mahon, Kathleen Melanie Interview, 2018 December 3. OH-03521. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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AN INTERVIEW WITH KATHLEEN KAHN MAHON, MD An Oral History Conducted by Barbara Tabach Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2014 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcriber: Kristin Hicks Interviewers: Barbara Tabach, Claytee D. White Editors and Project Assistants: Maggie Lopes, Amanda Hammar iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE In 1980, Sunrise Hospital was looking to provide specialized services for pediatrics. They recruited a young pediatric ophthalmologist named Dr. Kathleen Melanie Kahn Mahon. Intrigued by the opportunity to relocate to Las Vegas, Dr. Mahon became one of the first female pediatric ophthalmologists in the city. Dr. Mahon is a highly accomplished pediatric ophthalmologist: Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Fellow of the American Academy of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Medicine. Raised in Santa Fe, Dr. Mahon is the family historian and recalls parts of the family’s ancestral history through the generations. She speaks of her family’s Jewish immigration from Germany and Austria, and a deep historical legacy in New Mexico, which can be traced to the 1800s. As the Mahon family settled into southern Nevada, community involvement was a high priority for her. Among the local organizations that she devoted much of her time to were the Rotary Club, Ronald McDonald House, and Junior League. Dr. Mahon and her husband William were early members of Congregation Ner Tamid. She recalls both her and her son’s b’nai mitzvahs held at the synagogue. She includes anecdotes of enjoying Las Vegas -- stories that range from knowing respected banker Selma Bartlett to the famous Nat Hart from Caesars Palace. v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Kathleen Kahn Mahon, MD, FACS, FAAP December 3, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Barbara Tabach Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Traces her family ancestry to the fall of Masada to Rome and to Germany; her great-grandparents settled in New Mexico in the 1870s; provides details of family in Santa Fe and Albuquerque over the generations; her father Walter Kahn was born in Gallup, NM and mother was Lorraine Kempernich Kahn. Explains Converso as Spanish Jews……………………………………..1 – 11 Talks about her childhood Jewish education; family role in founding of Congregation Albert in Albuquerque; religious school was 120 mile round trip; Temple Beth Shalom; had her bat mitzvah in Las Vegas as an adult at Congregation Ner Tamid (CNT) in Henderson; retired early due to ALS diagnosis; active in the early founding years of CNT………………………………....12 – 15 Begins the story of moving to Las Vegas in 1980. Move from New Mexico required due to her husband’s health, need for a lower elevation. Career opportunity in Las Vegas, pediatric ophthalmologist position, recruited by Dr. Bernie Feldman. Other pediatric specialists were recruited, especially by Sunrise Hospital. Explains steps in improved treatments. Mentions Pediatric Society, Dr. Bill Evans (pediatric cardiologist) and pediatric community. She was first female in many medical areas including first female president of Nevada Chapter of the American College of Surgeons. Story about Selma Bartlett and her assistance in getting financial loans; Ann Lynch role; became involved in Junior League. Story of saving eyesight of a child from Kingman AZ after gunpowder exploded in his face………………………………………………..…16 – 22 Tells of becoming involved with Ronald McDonald House and Junior League; mentions Nancy Gasho, Hamburger University, McDonalds Children’s Charities, Eva Martin. Talks about her son Billy, scholastic achievements, and his Boy Scout experiences, including his Religion Badge that Rabbi Sanford Akselrad worked with him; her adult b’nai mitzvah studies and Billy’s bar mitzvah…………………………………………………………………………………….22 – 28 vi Talks about 1980s and Caesars’ famous restaurant operator, Nat Hart; cooking class; becoming a Dame de la Chaine des Rotisseur; Strip entertainment enjoyed with her husband; more about Junior League, Ronald McDonald House; Stop the Bleed initiative; Assistance League and lobbying in Congress for nurses…………………………………………………………..…29 – 36 More about community involvement in Las Vegas; Spread the Word Nevada, as sponsored by her Rotary Club; founding member of Children’s Discovery Museum, Ronald McDonald House, Pediatric Society, American Academy of Pediatrics among other organizations. Talks about work with glaucoma; leading ophthalmologists such as Herb Kaufman; Sunrise Hospital consultation when she first arrived and Moe Dalitz story………………………………………..……….37 – 41 vii [Today is December 3rd, 2018. This is Barbara Tabach, sitting in my office at the Oral History Research Center at Lied Library, and I am sitting with Dr. Mahon. Kathy, would you spell your name for us? K-A-T-H-L-E-E-N. Melanie, M-E-L-A-N-I-E. Kahn, K-A-H-N. Mahon, M-A-H-O-N. And it's MD and it's FACS [Fellow of the American College of Surgeons] and it's FAAP [Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.] You earned all those initials. Oh, yes, big time. [*Note: I have others too: FAAO, Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology; FABQARP, Fellow of American Academy of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Medicine.] To start with, for the Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage project, I’d like to know a little bit about your ancestral roots. What can you tell me about that? My grandfather did a very extensive history with a rabbi named Shindeling, in New Mexico, decades ago. Also, he told me oral family history because I'm the oldest female grandchild. My family came after the fall of Masada to Rome and they spent a thousand years in Rome going back and forth to Germany with the Roman legions as interpreters and clerks and bankers and traders; stuff like that. They ended up in Germany in a village called Schulstein along the Rhine River so they could escape easily from pogroms and stuff. Interestingly enough as an aside, my family history is a little unusual in that every member of my grandfather's family learned to swim and row a boat and that sort of thing so they could get away if necessary. Is this your maternal or paternal side? My paternal grandfather. His family were Cohens and had been in Germany for at least a 2 thousand years. He married my grandmother and brought her over from Germany. Her family came from Frankfurt. Her mother was Carlotta Meyer. Her father was a man named Abraham Oppenheimer-Baller. They were under the protection of the Oppenheim family. My grandmother's name was Martha Melanie Oppenheimer Mullen. She was supposed to have married Henry Oppenheim, but he was too short and she didn't want to marry him and his mother didn't like her. But her mother was connected to the Rothschilds because, of course, they were Frankfurt Meyers, too. The girls didn't inherent the family wealth, but they were given very nice dowries with the exception of the oldest Rothschild's—Jacob, I think—daughter, who was his only daughter who inherited all of his wealth and she married one of her first cousins. But at any rate, my grandfather came to New Mexico about 1906, to Santa Fe, because he had had a year of university training in banking and accounting and stuff like that. He spoke about eleven languages before he got to New Mexico. Interestingly enough, when he got to New Mexico, he found a distant relative of his there named Louis Kahn, who was also from Germany. I would guess he was probably a third or fourth cousin. He came about 1832, which was an extremely unusual thing to do because the Inquisition was still in effect until 1834. It was outlawed in 1934, fortunately. Louis Kahn had married into a Crypto-Jewish family from Mora, New Mexico, a lady named Gertrude. I, of course, never met him because, of course, 1832 and I was born in 1948, there was just no way. Interestingly enough, my grandfather did say Kaddish for him. That's a good tradition. Yes. My great-grandfather’s family came about 1870 to Albuquerque. They came for land. They had come from Austria. Their name was Kempenich. They had been in Austria for at least a thousand years from a village named Kempenich and the family took the name of the village. 3 Their original family name was Altshul. My mother's family name was Kempenich. My mother's family owned a curio store on the plaza in Santa Fe named (Kempenich's On the Plaza Curios). They had been brought to Santa Fe by my grandfather Alfred Kempenich's sister, Elsie Kempenich Gans who had married a very well-to-do man who went to school at Yale, but was very interested in American Indians and also had asthma or something, Great-uncle Julius, and that's what brought him to New Mexico. He had a large building on the Plaza that he bought from my grandfather's cousin, Louis Kahn, so that's how I ended up inheriting it, along with my sister. Anyway, my grandfather Al Kempenich was born in Albuquerque about 1896. He learned German at home from his parents and he learned Spanish from his playmates. He started school in Albuquerque, first grade, and it was in English. Of course, Poppy didn't know any English – Poppy was the name for grandfather in Spanish. He learned English in two weeks flat. Needless to say, he was extremely gifted with languages and really smart. He went through school, Albuquerque High School and all that. He then joined the navy for World War I. He was a sailor. He was an interpreter for the US Navy. He got sent over to Spain because, of course, he was fluent in Spanish and could write it and speak it and all that and he was fluent in German and in English. Interestingly enough, Poppy said after the war was won and he came back, he was in a parade – I believe, in New York City or something – and he said the horrendous 1918 flu epidemic was going on and he had soldiers and sailors dying to the left of him and in front of him and behind him, just marching along and dropping over dead from the flu. He was an absolute fanatic that we get our flu shots every year, which, of course, I still do. I think if the regular average American had a grandfather like mine, they would certainly get flu shots, too, 4 because his stories of the 1918 flu epidemic were just horrendous. Anyway, he married my mother's mother, Mabel Ruth Heyman Kempenich. She was from Mississippi, which was a highly unusual place for a Jewish lady to be from. Her father had gone down right at the end of the Civil War and bought a plantation next to Greenwood plantation in Greenwood, Mississippi. He raised cotton and stuff like that I guess. It was an interesting place to grow up according to my grandmother. She remembers going to fish fries and having perch and stuff like that, not catfish because it wasn't kosher. She had a sister who had married a man from Albuquerque, my great-aunt Lillian. My grandmother Mabel Ruth Kempenich came out to visit her sister and met and married my grandfather, because apparently it was extraordinarily difficult to get married to another Jewish person back then in states like Mississippi and New Mexico where there were very few Jewish people who weren't related. My grandmother's family history. Her mother had come from New Orleans, I believe, and her stepmother, too. Her stepmother died early, I believe, in childbirth. I'm not entirely sure how they got to New Orleans, but somehow they did; I think from France. That's how they all got to New Mexico. Anyway, my grandfather Gus came to be manager and sort of keep the finances in shape for the mines at Terrero in northern New Mexico. He worked there for a couple of years and then he joined with his brother Siegfried brought Gus over and started a business in, I believe, Bernalillo, New Mexico. Then from there, they brought another brother, my great-uncle Albert in, Albert Kahn. He was Gus' youngest brother. He came from a family of eight boys and girls. They then opened a business in Albuquerque. He did actually quite well until there was some sort of financial problem in society, I'm not quite sure, one of the panics or something. He moved 5 to Gallup and had a business there. Gussie, being my grandfather, of course learned Navajo, which was a next to impossible thing to do back then because it was never written until after World War II. Gussie never met a stranger. He had a really, really good friend named Jesus Arvizzo (Hosteen Kazzie), I believe his name was. Hosteen is H-O-S-T-E-E-N and it's honorific in Navajo. K-A-Z-Z-I-E is a Navajo last name. Apparently, he helped teach Gussie Navajo. Anyway, Gussie had other good friends in Gallup, the Danoffs, who are now cousins of mine, who had a ranch in a place called Danoff, New Mexico. Their family history has been extremely well documented in New Mexico, too. They've been there a very long time. My grandmother and Rosie Danoff were friends because Rosie was a really, really good cook and so was my grandmother. My father, Walter Kahn, was born in Gallup in 1918. His older brother, Albert Louis Kahn, was born in, I believe, Gallup in 1914. Those are the only two children in my grandparents' family on that side. My grandfather had lots of friends and so did my father. Gussie and Daddy, too, had an enormous fondness for Mexican food, which admittedly is delicious. Daddy would sort of shop around and eat dinner with his friends next door. He had other friends who were from other parts of Europe. He'd come home stuffed to the gills with various and sundry delicious food from Poland and Mexico and other places, Russia. Then my grandmother was worried sick that he wouldn't eat his dinner. Well, of course, he wouldn't eat his dinner. Gussie had some fascinating stories. He traded with the last hereditary chief of the Navajos, Chee Dodge. Gussie would take out boxes of turquoise and ingots of silver and things like that and trade them for sheep pelts and things like that. Gussie had a really good deal one 6 time; he bought, for a penny a pair, high-button leather women's boots because they had gone out for fashion suddenly in the 1920s. The Navajo women didn't care if they were in fashion or not because they loved wearing them because they kept them safe from the rattlesnakes. Gussie made a fantastic trade with Chee Dodge for those. My father remembered getting to go out and sleep in the hogans with Chee Dodge's kids. Of course, he would come home to Gallup and my grandmother, being a good German housewife, would scrub him up one side and down the other, and his older brother too, with lye soap and wash his hair with turpentine. It was an experience because he'd come home with lice and scabies and everything else. But he had a wonderful time and he loved, just loved Navajo mutton stew and fried bread and all the other indigestible and ghastly for you things that they ate, canned peaches, canned tomatoes. The Navajo had an interesting diet. Anyway, about 1930, the depression came and Gussie had problems in business in Gallup. He had sponsored a friend of his, Henry Pick, to come over from Germany or Austria, I don't remember which, way back when, in the nineteen-teens. Henry Pick had come over and taken over the management of the mine at Terrero. Henry unfortunately was killed very early on in a robbery for the mine payroll. Meanwhile, Henry had brought over his younger brothers and one of them, Emil Pick, was an extraordinarily good friend of Gussie's. When Gussie got into financial trouble in the store in Gallup, he called on his friend Emil Pick who guaranteed his loans and all. So Gussie moved to Santa Fe and opened a shoe store in Santa Fe under the sponsorship of Emil Pick and Gussie did very, very well there and lived two doors down the street from Emil. In between was a man named Fred Mann who was an extraordinary scholar from Hungary, I believe, who was also Jewish. At one point, Fred Mann was joking with Emil and Gussie that they were the Jewish ghetto of Santa Fe. Emil verbally stomped on him and said, 7 "No, there is no Jewish ghetto in America. Americans can live anywhere they want." He was very proud of that. Emil married a non-Jewish woman, who coincidentally had been married to his brother Henry in the first place, Elsa—Tante Elsa, which is honorific, which means aunt. We always called her Tante Elsa. She was a beautiful, beautiful woman, and Catholic. They lived in Santa Fe for many years. My grandmother Mamie [pronounced with a long ‘a’], Martha Melanie Kahn—I called her Mamie; other people called her Aunt Lonnie—she just loved Santa Fe because Gallup had been a very rough mining/railroad town. Gussie had gone to work in the morning and found dead men on his doorstep and had to carry a gun to work. Pancho Villa had raided across the border during his sojourn into New Mexico. It was a very rough place. She just loved Santa Fe because they had theater there and there were cultured people there who knew how to cook with olive oil and almonds and artichokes and Mamie knew how to cook. It was really cool. Being the eldest grandchild and a girl, my grandfather Gus was so furious when I was born because I was too late to be a tax deduction; my birthday is January second and I was born in 1948. And I had the nerve to be a girl, which was a ghastly thing to be. He didn't get to have the typical Cohen ceremony where you didn't have to buy the child back from the Cohens because I was a Cohen, but I wasn't a boy or something. Anyway, my sister and I are the only girls in our extended family for lots of generations. My grandfather decided to make me the family historian because that's what the oldest Jewish granddaughter usually is. Interestingly enough, in the Converso families up in the mountains—and there are thousands and thousands of what the Spaniards call Morenos, but they call themselves Conversos, Spanish Jews who are forcibly converted to Catholicism—the oldest 8 female grandchild is the one who knows the family histories. Anyway, my grandfather told me all these old family stories, about the Silk Road, and we were traders on the Silk Road for centuries and centuries, and there were treasure caves on the Silk Road. I never believed some of this. I thought they were fairy tales. I got to an exhibit at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles about the treasure caves. Who knew? But there were treasure caves on the Silk Road. Moving on from there, Gussie decided my great-uncle should tell me about how we came under the sponsorship of Archbishop Lamy and why the very few German Jews in Santa Fe were protected by Archbishop Lamy. Great-uncle Julius Gans and Daddy and Gussie took me over to the St. Francis Cathedral and showed me what's called by Christians the Tetragrammaton; it's the name of God in Hebrew. It's on the lintel over the door, the arch over the door of the cathedral. I'm looking at this going, hmm. I said to Great-uncle Julius, "Why is the name of God on the lintel of the cathedral in Hebrew?" He said that Archbishop Lamy had come in 1847, 1848, in the Battle of San Jacinto when Texas was won by the Americans. Archbishop Lamy was sent by the Pope through Mexico City, up the Chihuahua Trail to Santa Fe with his olive oil in his saddle bags. He was from France originally. He arrived in Santa Fe to find the only woman in the entire city who knew how to cook what he liked to eat with his olive oil were the Jewish merchants' wives. He became friends with them and played poker with them and had them over for dinner, much to the horror of his nuns who had to cook for them. Apparently, the archbishop was very depressed one day and his friend Mr. Spiegelberg said, "Why are you so depressed?" He said, "Because I cannot afford to finish the cathedral." It's not ever supposed to be finished because of the tax laws from Spain. This was about 1850s, 1860s. Mr. Spiegelberg said, "Well, what would it cost?" The archbishop said, "Five thousand 9 dollars." Mr. Spiegelberg said, "Wait a minute." He went home and got five thousand dollars out of his stash of money and I guess had other contributions from the Spitzes and the Staubs who were merchants and also owned hotels in Santa Fe and took it down and gave it to the archbishop as a gift. Archbishop Lamy said, "Well, I can never repay this. It's just too magnificent a gift." Mr. Spiegelberg said, "It is not meant to be repaid; it's a gift." Ever since, those of us who are descendants of the original settlers have been under the personal protection of the Catholic Church in Santa Fe, which is a very anomalous position to be in, but that's where we are. Now, my poor grandmother, Mamie, had always been so scared to death of priests and nuns that she would cross the street to get away from them every time she saw one. Her many times great-uncle had been burned at the stake by Cardinal Richelieu for heresy, way back when in the 1300s or 1100s, I don't know when, whenever Cardinal Richelieu lived. I guess a story like that comes down through Jewish families by oral history, too, and so it was just frightening. It's very interesting. You've got a really deeply rooted family tree that you know. My family had been court jewelers in Spain, part of Mamie's ancestry. After the fall of Masada, they came to Rome and to Spain and became court jewelers and apparently had been extremely prominent and well-to-do people. Their family name was Ballin; thus, Oppenheimer Ballin. Ballin is from Spanish Belin, Bethlehem in Israel. As I understood it from Mamie, they were connected with the Ha-Levy’s who were extremely, extremely prominent people in Spain and perhaps had been part of the cause, unfortunately and inadvertently of the inquisition because there was some gossip that I believe Queen Isabella's father had been descended from the Ha-Levy’s illegitimately, but of course that was always firmly denied, to say the least. 10 When the inquisition came, my grandmother's people were prominent enough that they went and joined as court jewelers to a court of a king in one of the parts of France and got out of Spain. That's how they got away from the Inquisition and how they survived. Over the centuries, they remained jewelers and somehow migrated across France into what became Alsace-Lorraine. Then when Germany won some Franco-Prussian war, Alsace-Lorraine was taken over and they ended up as part of Germany, not a good thing I gather. But at any rate, my family got to New Mexico and prospered there. Gussie brought over eighteen relatives and got them away from the inquisition, and that's not counting the Pick family that he helped bring over way back when. He saved a lot of relatives and he would have saved more except he got encephalitis and fell and broke his hip and various sundry things. I had an intensely unpleasant great-aunt Marcella Kahn in Boulder, Colorado who did not like being Jewish and she did not like Jews and she would not sign the papers to agree to sponsor my grandfather's last sister for my great-uncle Albert—she was his sister, too—to get her out of Germany, so she died at Auschwitz. Needless to say, the family has never forgiven great-aunt Marcella and never will. That is part of family lore that will live in infamy, infamy. Great-aunt Marcella was an absolute pill, and, yes, I did meet her as a child. As a little kid, my grandmother and grandfather took me along with them on various trips around New Mexico. My grandfather had friends all over the place. We went up to visit my cousin Kathryn, who was one of my grandfather's favorite nieces. He was her guardian because her father had died extraordinarily young, my great-uncle Louie. Her last name was Hyman also, but that was spelled differently. She and her sister, Bertha, were wards of my grandfather. My father and Uncle Albert were very fond of Kathryn and Bertha. We'd go up and visit Kathryn and then we'd go up and see Albert and my unfortunate great-aunt Marcella in Boulder. They had two nice 11 sons, Kenny and Bill Kahn. We would go around and Gussie would be invited to fifteenth birthday celebrations for girls—they are called quinceanñeras now, but back then I don't know what they were called—and cabrito roasts. We'd go to feast days at the various pueblos because Gussie had friends at all sorts of pueblos. We'd go out Shalakos at Zuni and out to the Navajo lands. We went all over creation, up to Canyon De Che. Gussie never met a stranger, I swear, and neither did Daddy. Anyway, my father wanted to go to university, but my grandfather said he was needed at the store. Daddy, who got into the University of Chicago and Northwestern, couldn't go, and so he stayed home and helped run the store with his brother Albert. Eventually they took over the store and inherited it. My grandfather died at eighty-nine. He had always eaten anything he wanted, nothing kosher mostly, but anything he wanted. Gussie was an extremely handsome man, blond hair and very good-looking. As a matter of fact—anything in German I can't remember—a good-looking, (German). But at any rate, he had a lady named Mrs. Benevitez who proposed to him. She had been his housekeeper for years. He said, no, he didn't want to get married again. Then he had a friend Yohannah Blatt, who was a quite well-to-do woman, very smart in Santa Fe who was about Gussie's age and he had been friends with her for years, but he didn't want to marry her, and she proposed to him. It was extremely awkward. Gussie had to finally tell Yohannah—she was Jewish—that he just didn't want to get married again. It was awkward to say the least. Gussie hid over at our house for a few weeks after that. Tell me, because you've got a really great grasp of (your) family tree and the Jewish roots, in the New Mexico life, these generations where you were raised and spent your childhood, what was the Jewish education like or culture for you? 12 My grandfather Al Kempenich's father, Ludwig Kempenich, was one of the four founders of what's now Congregation Albert in Albuquerque. It was named after the biggest donor and there were four founders. My grandfather and his sisters had gone to Sunday school there and all that and that's how Poppy learned Hebrew and Yiddish and had his bar mitzvah and all that stuff. My family moved up to Santa Fe because that's where Gussie's business was. It was sixty miles from Albuquerque and it was just too far, especially in the winter, to go a hundred and twenty miles round-trip for Sunday school and Hebrew lessons, so they founded a temple, Temple Beth Shalom up in Santa Fe when I was a little kid, I must have been about seven, for me and my cousins to go to Sunday school. We were about a third of the congregation. Well, perhaps more than that because it turned out that the Silvers, Abe Silver, who had a business in Santa Fe also, was a cousin of my mother's. Her grandfather had one sister; my great-great-aunt Trudy was his grandmother. We were related to the Silvers, too. We had Temple Beth Shalom and that's where I had my training. I did not have a bat mitzvah then because my grandfather didn't think girls needed them. To say that my grandfather was a dictator was an understatement. But later on when I was sixty-five years old, here in Las Vegas I had a bat mitzvah because I swore back then I had been through all the classes that my cousins went through with them, and I was quite a bit smarter than almost all of them with the exception of my cousin Mike and I could see no reason why I couldn't have a bat mitzvah and get all those nice gifts and have a party too. Let's talk about having an adult bat mitzvah. You were determined to do that. I had to retire a little early at sixty-two and a half for health reasons because I had what they thought was true ALS at the time and I had to exercise like a fiend once I got the diagnosis. I exercised about five hours a week before then, but once I got the diagnosis I went back to the 13 gym having told my neurologist down at Barrow's in Phoenix, "There was no way I was getting a wheelchair, a cane, braces on my ankles or anything else like that." He said, "Well, what are you going to do?" I had fallen a hundred times in three years from fifty-five to fifty-eight years of age. I said, "I'm going back to the gym." So I did. I got stuck in the anger phase of the five phases of death and dying. The head trainer and I—she's still my trainer, Annie Shattack, who parenthetically is Russian Jewish by decent, over at the Las Vegas Athletic Club—she devised a seventeen-hour-a-week exercise regimen for me with balance and stretching and cardio and Zumba. You name it, I do it and I still do. I reached sixty-five and I said to myself, "Self, you're not getting any younger." I signed up for the b'nai mitzvah class, which in my year was a very fascinating class made up of about half of converts and half of people like me who had never had a b'nai mitzvah. Which congregation was this at? This is with Sandy Akselrad in Henderson. Congregation Ner Tamid. Yes, Ner Tamid. The other congregation in Santa Fe my family founded was Beit Tikva, but that was another story. It turned out I was one of the founders of Congregation Ner Tamid. We moved here in 1980 and the rabbi counts us among the founders because they started the congregation about 1974, I believe, at a meeting in [the David Wasserman] home…Of course, I wasn't there; I was still in medical school. We got here in '80 and joined there and Congregation Beth Sholom, but my husband, of course, being not Jewish couldn't understand the services at Beth Sholom at all and didn't like it at all, so we moved over to Ner Tamid. Anyway, I joined the class and I went to Hebrew school, as you're supposed to do. They put me in beginning Hebrew because I just wasn't quite sure where my Hebrew was after thirteen 14 years as a kid when I hadn't had much since then. I took two lessons, I believe, and went through the entire beginning book in about an hour and a half flat. I went to the next class and they were going through a lesson and I said, "Well, that's sin and that's shin and this number in the alphabet and they do this." Of course, the alphabet is numerical. They said, "What are you doing in this class?" And I said, "Well, a door opened in my head and my thirteen years of Hebrew lessons just came back over the weekend." They drop kicked me into advanced Hebrew like three weeks after it started and I joined the advanced class, which was kind of fun. It was really kind of a fun class because we were with the converts and a lot of interesting people. I truly had no idea so many Episcopalians and Baptists and people like that had become Jewish, but they had, which was really fascinating. [We Jews never proselytize.] But, at any rate, we went through the four Seders of the year and I brought nice big Nambe ware tray full of kosher fruit and stuff like that. Nambe ware is made in a small pueblo outside of Santa Fe. I went through the class. Because I was a Cohen, I went up first for the blessings and to read the Torah and all that stuff, which was fun. Parenthetically, my grandfather got so mad at Temple Albert one time because he and his whole family, of course, were hereditary Cohens and they were not called up first to read from the Torah. They were so mad that they all quit Temple Albert in a bunch and they did not go back for a few years until t