description

Historias: Stories of El Paso
A virtual exhibition curated by our community

Courtesy of: Rebecca Ann Muñoz.
Title: Memories of Grandpa Schwartz at Passover
Historia Type: Photograph

Every Passover, my Grandpa Schwartz (Aaron J. Schwartz) would prepare countless matzoh balls, roast brisket, cucumber salad, sometimes fresh horseradish, and gefilte fish for the pesach Seder. He would buy dozens of boxes of matzohs, jellied candies, jams, macaroons for dessert. When you walked into my grandparents’ house in the lower valley, you were hit with all the delicious smells of Passover that you had waited to taste all year long. The rich chicken soup broth filled the air - teasing that it would cure whatever ailed you (whether you were sick, misbehaving, or didn’t call your grandparents that often during the year). Sometimes the air was tense because my Grandma Schwartz would visit the next-door neighbor’s house and bring in non-Pesach food that she shouldn’t have. My mom, Jay, and aunt Debbie would help peel the hard-boiled eggs that we would eat when it was time for dinner, if my grandpa was running out of time. When all the food was ready, it was time to sit down at the Passover table. All the grandkids would grab a seat, waiting to see if we would be poured Mogen David wine or grape juice. We’d flip through our illustrated Haggadah that grandpa purchased just for us, measuring how many pages it would be until we could eat. Even if she had snuck a bite to eat beforehand, my grandma made sure that everyone knew she had to eat before everyone else and the blessings because she had “the diabetes”.

This old polaroid photo shows my grandpa in action. I look back at this photo and I remember him explaining the different elements of the Seder plate, his finger pointing at each element - a story following each gesture. I remember my grandpa’s gravelly voice, his Brooklyn accent tinged with a West Texas Chicano twang after years of living in El Paso, as he would begin to read the first prayers in the Haggadah in Yiddish and translate for us kids very quickly into English. He took such joy in explaining why we observed Passover, giving us a history lesson after every passage. I remember cousins, who will not be named, drinking too much wine, my mom and aunt making spritzers, my oldest sister microwaving a hardboiled egg to the point of exploding (which we laugh about to this day), and opening numerous cans of macaroons to try every flavor. My grandpa would always tell us that we didn’t need to worry about going to school the next day because we were Jewish, and he could give us a note! Sometimes after dinner, he would sing songs which I cannot remember now. But I will always remember the timbre of his voice and the love that he passed on in his cooking and traditions.

Uploaded on 06.03.2020 by El Paso Museum of History

Central / Downtown, (2020 - 2029), Cultural Heritage

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