The adult bar and bat mitzvah experience comes in many shapes and sizes and fills the spiritual needs of different people at different times in their lives, but almost always, the group class builds community and shared experience, and like the traditional 13 year old b'nei mitzvah, builds memories to last a life time. At Midbar Kodesh Temple this year's class is no different. The current journey began eight months ago for three different women, coming from different backgrounds and choosing to study for different reasons.
This week Mitzi Lampert, Mona Rudnick and Kimi Monaco make a connection between themselves and Judaism, enhancing themselves spiritually, and forming a strong friendship with each other, as they approach the bima in celebration of their bat mitzvah.
Mitzi Lampert grew up in New York at a time when it was uncommon for women to be called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah. It was always something that she wanted to do, so when Mona told her about the conversation she had with Rabbi Tecktiel about an adult Bat Mitzvah class, the opportunity presented itself to fulfill that dream.
Mitzi’s background was in dance, music, and theater. She had been teaching dance and doing bookkeeping, going on the road as a dancer. After leaving the dance company Mitzi moved to North Central Idaho and began an 18 year banking career. Mitzi furthered her education, earning Bachelor of Applied Science degrees in Administrative Medical Assisting and Medical Assisting and Certified Professonal Coder, Certified Medical Assistant and Certified Outpatient Coder professional certificates.
After 27 years in Idaho, Mitzi, with husband Jim Simonsen, relocated to Henderson in September 2014. She began work as a Certified Medical Billing and Coding Specialist in healthcare. Mitzi said that "studying every Sunday with Mona and Kimi these past eight months has been a wonderful experience which will always be cherished. They have become two of the most important people in my life."
Mona Rudnick says that "Judaism has been a wonderful 55 year journey." She spent several years preparing for her conversion and then, 45 years ago, married Arnie. Together, in Chicago, they raised their son Joel, who will attend this week’s Bat Mitzvah celebration. Like so many parents, she learned along with him. She had truly embraced Judaism but never thought a Bat Mitzvah would become a reality. Mona said that she is “very happy to be sharing this day with two women, now good friends, who have become a wonderful part of my life.”
Mona is a registered nurse and worked as a hospice nurse manger before retiring. She and Arnie were active in their Chicago synagogue, with Mona working with Bar and Bat Mitzvah families, helping to plan the details of their events. At Midbar, she and Arnie are both active again. Mona has been programming co-chair for HAZAK for 4 years and she volunteers wherever and whenever she can. She attends Talmud class every week and regularly attends Saturday morning services.
Kimi Monaco has lived in Las Vegas for 19 years and been a member of Midbar Kodesh Temple for five of those years. She serves as a member of the synagogue board of directors. She is a United States military veteran and is a Certified Krav Maga Global Instructor, teaching Krav Maga since 2012. She teaches self defense at UNLV and currently owns Battle Born Krav Maga in Las Vegas. Her classes specialize in building awareness as well as confidence. Kimi is a member of the board of directors for Vegas Youth Ambassadors and works with other organizations dealing with human trafficking awareness/prevention, homeless youth, domestic violence victims, and outreach programs. Kimi also works for Stryker Sports Medicine which offers a wide range of innovative sports medicine implants, instrumentation, visualization, resection and biologic solutions.
Last fall Kimi began studying as a bat mitzvah student with Mona and Mitzi, forming a close bond. She looks forward to being called to the Torah with them. She thanks Rabbi Tecktiel and his family for their kindness. Kimi says that she "knew I was home the minute I walked into the doors of Midbar Kodesh Temple, as I was welcomed with open arms."
The students agree that Rabbi Tecktiel and Cantor Gale have been a true source of strength, knowledge, and patience and thanks them for this opportunity and all of their support during this amazing time. Mitzi, Mona and Kimi will be called to the Torah at Midbar Kodesh Temple at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, June 9.
For more information on Adult Education and future adult b'nei mitzvah classes at Midbar Kodesh Temple contact Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel at 702.454-4848 or go to www.midbarkodesh.org. ; Midbar Kodesh Temple, an inclusive synagogue, is the Conservative synagogue in Green Valley Ranch.