Skip to main content

Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

Mara Braun interview, September 9, 2019: transcript






Interviewed by Barbara Tabach. Mara Braun, a native of Puerto Rico, has lived in Las Vegas since 1975. She is the owner/operator of a successful event and catering business. Mara married Abe Braun and raised their children in both Latinx and Jewish traditions.

Digital ID


Physical Identifier



Braun, Mara Interview, 2019 September 9. OH-03672. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


This material is made available to facilitate private study, scholarship, or research. It may be protected by copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity rights, or other interests not owned by UNLV. Users are responsible for determining whether permissions are necessary from rights owners for any intended use and for obtaining all required permissions. Acknowledgement of the UNLV University Libraries is requested. For more information, please see the UNLV Special Collections policies on reproduction and use ( or contact us at

Standardized Rights Statement

Digital Provenance

Original archival records created digitally





AN INTERVIEW WITH MARA BRAUN An Oral History Conducted by Barbara Tabach Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2018 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez, Elsa Lopez Editors and Project Assistants: Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Monserrath Hernández, Elsa Lopez, Nathalie Martinez, Marcela Rodriquez-Campo, Rodrigo Vazquez iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) 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 Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE Mara Braun sighs at the tantalizing memories of her grandmother’s arroz con pollo. The same grandmother would shoo the young Mara from the kitchen. Luckily for Las Vegas, Mara’s keen and creative instincts with food were not hampered. From her earliest cake baking to providing a delightful meal for a quinceañera or wedding, she began building Le Royal Dreams, the highly successful event and catering business. She has operated the business since the mid-1970s as she settled into living in Las Vegas. Her clientele list and stories are complete with celebrities, such as Siegfried and Roy, and ethnic diversity. Mara’s oral history reveals her charming openness, stubbornness, and success. The straight-talking Mara is an extraordinarily big-hearted woman. Mara was born in Puerto Rico and raised by loving parents who gave her ample room to blossom. While visiting an aunt in Mexico City, Mara had a random encounter with Abraham “Abe” Braun, a watch salesman, while seeking a repair of her Omega watch. Then, like a romance novel, the smitten Abe began his persistent wooing of the reluctant Mara. When they did fall in love, Mara also made the life changing decision to convert to Judaism, complete with her parents’ blessings. She embraced the Jewish culture, the love of a widowed Abe, the Jewish culture, and the immensely important role as a mother to his/their children. As Mara emphasizes, the word “step” had no place in the family she and Abe formed. Abe immigrated to the United States and worked as a timeshare sales consultant in 1975. He passed away on January 21, 2019 v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Mara Braun September 9, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Barbara Tabach Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Explains family ancestry can be traced to France for her father’s [Cesar] side and to Spain on her mother’s [Alicia] side. Families immigrated to Puerto Rico. Her maternal grandfather was the first postmaster on the island; tale of her grandparents elopement and first home. Father’s family was from New York City, where he was one of seventeen children. How her grandmother did all the cooking and what she remembers about that – her arroz con pollo. Talks about moving to Indiana during her junior and high school years (1960s); mother earned doctorate in education from Indiana University and returned to Puerto Rico to hold several positions in education, including starting Head Start and becoming dean of the University of Puerto Rico. Talks about adjusting to life in United States, language, finding food……………………………………..1 – 6 Summers in Mexico working for an aunt, which she liked very much. Attended college in Boston, and in Puerto Rico, but decided to remain in Mexico; and then meeting Abe Braun. Talks about her relationship with Judaism as a young woman, her first Pesach. Story of Abe’s proposal; arranging her conversion and a Jewish wedding in Puerto Rico with her parents support; having their wedding ceremony on the Thursday, a day before Passover began and other fun details……………………………………………………………………………………7 – 13 Story of meeting Abe Braun in Mexico City, while getting her Omega watch repaired; Abe’s persistence in courting her; she including five aunts in the first date; honeymoon in Miami. Moved to Mexico; settling into being Jewish and living there; learning kosher and preparing a family meal………………………………..………………………………………………..14 – 18 Recalls being a Puerto Rican Jewish convert living in Mexico City; local traditions and fashion. Talks about becoming mother to Abe’s four children whose mother had died and elimination of the label of step when referring to her or the children; episode with Jessica at school in Las vi Vegas (1970s) and the decision to move the family to Sarasota, Florida; beginning of her catering business……………………………………………………………………………19 – 24 Focuses on what Las Vegas was like when they came to live here in 1974; living on Hacienda near Gene Ward Elementary School; story of first High Holidays, Temple Beth Sholom, and Dr. Lubritz, becoming acquainted with Rabbi Mel Hecht, Congregation Ner Tamid, and Rabbi Sandford Akselrad and loss of her son Sammy…………………………………………….25 – 30 Catering career becomes focus of interview: story of how she started with baking cakes and grew it into a business that pays attention to the variety of ethnic tastes of her clientele, which included magicians Siegfried and Roy and stories of cake deliveries gone awry and limits she put on that part of her catering. How she finds help, her thoughts about culinary schools, building her trustworthy crew, and manage her scheduling………………………………………..….. 31 – 40 Name of business is Le Royal Dreams and she has stories from the variety of cultures she has catered for. Hindu, Japanese and so. Talks about what she might serve for a family dinner; learning to speak with people of different cultures; working with Health Department regulations, quinceañeras, use of Greek church’s kitchen………………………………………………41 – 47 Discusses Spanish and being bilingual; being a Jewish mother; daughter marrying a Mormon man; grandson engagement to a Jewish girl. Talks about Abe’s family background, family from Poland, and growing up Jewish in Mexico City; Abe’s move to Los Angeles and career as a jewelry salesman; becoming US citizens……………………………………….48 – 55 vii Today is September 9, 2019. This is Barbara Tabach in the Oral History Research Center. I’m going to be interviewing Mara Braun for the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Project. Mara, would you spell your name for us, please? M-A-R-A, capital B-R-A-U-N. I’d like you start by telling me what you know about your ancestral roots. How far back can you go? My ancestors on my father’s side, they go as far back as France, and on my mother’s side as far back as Spain. I know that they were related at the time to—I was told—to a late relation of the queen of Spain way, way back. When did the family start leaving Europe? That I don’t know. I know that I have a niece in Israel who is trying to do a family history tree trying to find out details for us, but I know it is way, way back. I was told as a small child that my grandmother remembers when she got married and she had somebody from the courtship of—my great-grandmother—from the courtship of the queen gave them a piece of land as a gift for the birth of that first child that was a son. That’s as far back. As you grow sometimes you wish that you would pay more attention to the stories that the grandmas tell you, but I do remember sitting in my great-grandmother’s lap and my great-great-grandfather’s lap. Where was this? In Puerto Rico. Is that where you were born? That’s where I was born. Tell me about that—your youth and being from Puerto Rico. 2 We were a family where, to my grandparents, education was number one. My grandfather was the first postmaster in the island. For him education had to be the first thing that they did in that house. My grandmother was very strict, to the point that she would chase all the boys and girlfriends of her kids. My mother, when she got married, of course, my father and she eloped, got married, and after a month he said, “We have to tell her we’re married. You can’t be going back to the house.” That’s how strict it was. We grew up in a house with the aunts until my parents decided to do the next step of buying a home, and that’s another story. When they bought that home, he said, “I’m buying a home for my wife and she’s pregnant.” My grandfather said, “Well, we’re all moving in with you.” Is this his side or her side of the family? My mom’s side. My father’s side, my grandfather, at the time I was told that he was living in New York. He had just moved to New York. From where? I have no idea. I know my father was a twin and he came from a family that was seventeen kids, in the old days. That’s how we grew up, like a big, big family. That house kept getting bigger and bigger so we could have our own private quarters. One thing I do remember is that Grandma and Grandpa—Grandma was the matriarch of the family. Everybody respected that even my dad. She was the head of that household with my grandfather. We used to sit every night to have dinner together as a family. Sunday was family lunch at Grandma’s all the time even after cousins got married and we got married. That’s where everybody came on Sunday. She was still alive, so that was the respect for the one who had started the family. How would you describe your childhood? It was a fun childhood. I had fun. I was happy. I can’t say I had a lonely childhood. Not with all those relatives, right? 3 How I came to learn to cook, I think it’s from God because I can tell you by the time I got married I had never been allowed in the kitchen because my grandmother would say, “A young lady does not burn her hands in the kitchen.” And I’m not lying to you. I learned. They say, “No, you had it in you; you had that ability.” Who did the cooking in the family when you were growing up? We grew up where the men were in good condition, so there was always someone in the house that would help, and my grandmother; that was her pride and joy. Was cooking? Cooking, oh yes. That was her pride and joy. What do you remember about her cooking? I remember when she would make arroz con pollo. Still to this day, even though my aunt tried, no one could make that like my grandmother. They would say, “It’s the love that she had when she was doing all the seasoning.” It’s something that when she did that on her red beans, no one…I think it was the love because that was her pride and joy. She would be the type that if she saw the guy cleaning the sidewalk and brushing, she would call him at three o’clock, “I made coffee. Here’s coffee, crackers and cheese.” “But my boss is going to come out.” “I’ll go sweep for you. Go drink it and then come back.” She would be out there sweeping for him while he would have the coffee and then he would go back out. That’s how I grew up in the island until my mother went to do her doctor’s degree in Bloomington, Indiana in higher education. That was the first actual time we were away from the family. It was like a new beginning for us as a family of four with my brother. There was you and your brother and your parents. Everybody moved to Indiana? They stayed in the house and we went with my mom to Indiana. 4 When you say “we,” you and— My brother, my father and myself, while she did her doctor’s degree…She graduated from Indiana University. What did she do? She is one of the ones that started the programs for Head Start in the island. She was dean of the University of Puerto Rico of the Education Department. Then she was the dean of Academic Affairs for the resident center that Phoenix University opened up in Puerto Rico. She helped that get approved and passed. While she was there, we went to junior high school and high school in Bloomington, Indiana. That was really our first time as a family of four without the grandpas, without the aunts, so it was like a new beginning and a new life for us. When she was done, I didn’t want to go back to the island. Then through the school, they found one of my girlfriend’s parents that I could stay with them for the school year, and that’s what I did that following year. You graduated from school there? Then I went on back to Puerto Rico. Then we took a trip to Mexico for the summer. My aunts used to go there every summer. That’s where I met my husband. Before we meet your husband, what year did you graduate from high school? I did it in three and a half years. It was about 1966-67 because I was sixteen going on seventeen by the time I was done. Other than the family part, which was obvious, how did living on the mainland, United States, compare with living in Puerto Rico? It’s totally different. You’re in a small island surrounded by water, thirty-five miles wide by a hundred miles long because that’s it. Of course, as a teenager it was a completely different life that you have in the States. You’re learning. When we went there, yes, we had some background 5 in English, but not all of it. We just were talking about that not even three weeks ago, my brother and I on the phone. We will never forget that first day we walked into the high school and junior high. The principal was out there in the lobby and he goes, “Oh, Pedro and Mara, we’ve been waiting to welcome you.” When you come from an island to a place that you don’t know anybody that makes you feel welcomed. That was nice. Everybody, everybody. It was a different time. I know that’s not like that now. But we were invited almost weekly to a different house so we could meet people and meet their kids even though they weren’t going to the same schools. There were only two high schools in the town and we could meet other people and it made us feel welcome and comfortable. Were there other ways that you connected with the community in Indiana? I was trying to meet friends at the time and trying to really learn the language so that I wouldn’t get stuck behind on anything. What was that like to suddenly be learning English and needing it every moment? At first it was kind of hard, but it didn’t feel that kind of hard because they always paired you with somebody that had a little bit of Spanish to make you feel welcome and comfortable. It was really, really a big difference. We don’t hear about that, do we? No. I remember I was in ninth grade when they paired me off with this kid named Alvaro. They said, “He just came from Cuba, so the same way we made you feel welcome, we hope you can.” It was funny because when he first arrived he started saying, “My parent own this. My parent owned that.” I said, “Look, I don’t care. What they want is to make you welcome and be happy. They don’t care what your parents used to own. If you want to be liked, forget about the life you 6 had in Cuba. That’s gone. I’m sure you don’t have everything you had over there now.” He said, “No.” “Start a new life. Learn your friends.” I figure I didn’t want them to start singling him out and I wanted him to feel welcome. We did that for about a year and by then he could speak and understand the English very well, so then he was on his own. Your mom was going to school working on her doctorate. What was your father doing? He then became a stay-at-home dad to watch over us and make sure that—the high schools were far from where the apartments at the university were, the ones that we had been given. They were in an area because they were for students in the university that it was just a small section for kids to school bus; they didn’t go to that area the first year. Then he be the one taking us and picking us up. That first winter storm, I know I put a foot outside the door and the next thing I know I was all the way out to the parking lot because there was ice underneath that snow. That’s funny. I’m from the Midwest. I know exactly what you’re describing. It’s perilous. Oh yes. Then I could cut a shortcut through here, and there I am deep in snow and I’m going, “Eh.” How did your parents adjust to the environment? To us, fine, because, if they had a hard time, they never let us know. Their English skills— Oh yes, they could speak English, oh yes. So they already had a foundation. The language was not a problem, okay. Food-wise, was it easy to find the food you needed as you were growing up in Indiana? If we needed something that was resemblance of Latin food, I’m not saying Mexican, we had to drive all the way to Indianapolis, an hour and a half away. They had told us; there was a lady that was there that had been there from Puerto Rico for years. She loved it and she stayed. She was 7 teaching. She told us where to find the store. Whenever we used to go, my mom used to check what was around that we could see so we could see new sights and all that. You graduate from high school and what happens next? I went to college. I took business administration. Then I got back; when I finished I came back to Puerto Rico. My aunt, the other aunt at the university that was a doctor in economics, asked me to help her in her office to work with her. We went that summer…My aunts love Mexico and every summer they would go to Mexico and they would take a different area of Mexico with a tour guide that we could tour and see. That’s the summer… Where did you go to college? I had two of them. I went to college in Boston. I had started in Puerto Rico. Which school in Boston? The State Academy. I went to Puerto Rico at the Sacred Heart College where I wasn’t happy. I didn’t like it. I told my mom, “I can’t do this. I don’t like this school. I don’t like having other type of religions and all that.” But it was because it was an English-speaking college; that was the only reason. She said, “Okay. Then you don’t like, let’s don’t waste the money before we go on paying.” She says, “You want to go back to work with your aunt until the new semester begins, and then let’s decide what you want to do?” By then I liked what I was doing with my aunt. When the summer came that’s the summer I met Abe. You said you liked doing what you were doing with your aunt. It was office work. It was the business administration and the computer work that I had learned, putting it to work. Talk about religion. You were raised Jewish? 8 No. How can I put this without hurting anybody’s feelings? My grandmother used to say, since I was growing up, “She’s the different one.” Since I was a little girl. My father used to say, “No.” And she said, “She is the different one and eventually you’ll have to accept.” He said, “Okay.” That’s all he said. They never pushed me against anything. One of the things I—don’t be mad at me and I hope you don’t quote me—one of things— Remember I am recording this, okay? And I won’t be mad at you for anything. I love honesty. When they put me in that Sacred Heart College, what I really didn’t like was because I sat there and I had heard, in a conference that they had everybody in the auditorium, the Mother Superior saying, “Jesus was the Messiah.” I turned around and I said to the girl that was sitting next to me, “No, he wasn’t.” She looked at me and she said, “Definitely you are at the wrong school.” That’s all she said. That’s why you don’t like it. That was the day I called my mom. Of course, I had dates and I had gone out. My father used to say, “You always said you don’t want to marry a Puerto Rican.” I said, “I don’t.” He said, “What do you want?” “Eventually you will find out.” That’s what I said to him. When I met my husband, I didn’t know he was Jewish. But I had friends that were Jewish in school. I had been to their Shabbat dinners. I had been invited. I would never go home and tell my mom I feel comfortable, but I already had seen how it was. I remember that my first Pesach dinner that my girlfriend invited me, I kept hitting her with my knee, “I’m starving.” It was a whole service. It was my first experience. But you’re listening to the whole story. You’re hearing from A to Z and it would pull you in. That was the first time I saw the hiding of the matzah and the little kids looking for and the chants. So mum’s the word. 9 When I found out my future husband was Jewish—when I met Abe I didn’t know. We were talking about this with my grandson yesterday. He said, “Grandma, when did Grandpa ask you to marry him and how?” I said, “I’ll tell you how. He called and said, ‘I’m coming down to Puerto Rico in April to see you. When I come back, I want to be married. I want to marry you when I get down there. But I’ve got to hang up now because the Cassius Clay fight is getting ready to begin.’” With the phone in my hand, my father asked me, “What’s going on?” And I go, “Uh…That was Abe.” “What happened? The call dropped?” “No. He said he wants to marry me when he comes down in April.” This was January. He says, “If that’s the case, he has to speak to me first.” When the fight was over, the phone rang again, and I picked it up because it was my own private line. He says, “I would like to speak to your father before I talk to you.” So I go, “Dad, can you come to my room?” I gave him the phone and he talked. When he passed me the phone, he says, “Part of my heart says no, but the other part says yes because I was with him in December and he’s a good man.” When that phone call was over, the next day—well, my grandmother says, “You’ll have to tell the family at dinnertime.” I went downstairs for breakfast, went to work with my aunt, and I started calling the temples that were in the island. Rabbi Waldenberg from the Conservative Temple—he says, “Well, they’re not usual, but I can do your marriage.” I said, “No, that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking about converting.” He says, “It’s a very hard class.” I said, “Well, I want to meet with you in person.” 10 Then at dinnertime when I told them that Abe had asked for my hand in marriage the night before and that Dad and Mom had agreed, my grandmother was very happy. She says, “Oh, we’re going to have a wedding.” Then I just blurted out, “And I made an appointment for Mom and Dad to go with me to see Rabbi Waldenberg tomorrow afternoon at four o’clock because I want to convert.” They all looked at me. My grandmother looked at me and she looked straight at my dad and she said, “I told you she was different; she’s a special one.” I said, “Grandma, you want to come? You can come.” She says, “No, that’s the place for your mom and dad.” We went the next day. I’m young; you say things that you shouldn’t. After the rabbi gave us all the information and he gave me the books, he said I would have to be in class every day with him at four o’clock until about seven every night except Friday nights and on the weekend. I said to him, “I have a question.” He said, “Go ahead, Mara.” “Are you doing this and are you going to pass me because you’re getting paid for the class, or are you really going to make sure that I learn?” My mother said, “Mara, I taught you better.” My father says, “I’m embarrassed.” I said, “No. That’s my question.” He started looking at me and he laughed at me. He said, “You are really special.” That’s all he said. And I go, “Oh, that’s my grandmother’s word.” He says, “No, I see it in your eyes that you really want to learn, and that’s why I am teaching you the class. I will be the other rabbi to do it.” Okay. We went like this all of January, all of February, all of March. About March 15th, he says, “We’re almost done. You’ve been to the classes with me. You’ve been here with ladies that have come in. You have answered every question. You have even gone into conversation with them. If somebody is more prepared to take the next step, it’s you. You know more about the religion than some of the ladies and the girls that are here. So, to answer your question from the first day, 11 you have earned it.” I said, “I’m sorry.” He says, “No, your age, you asked that question and I will go to the grave remembering you as my student.” He says, “Now you have to choose a name.” I go, “Hmm. Let me ask my future husband how does he feel. He doesn’t know that I’m converting. I wasn’t going to tell him I was doing this until you told me that I had passed.” He says, “Well, you can call him tonight, because the next step is going into the mikveh and then we’re going to go in the ocean and you’re going to give me a name.” When I went the next day, well, when I called Abe, I said, “Which name do you like? Rachel or Esther?” He says, “What are you talking about?” “Esther, Ruth or Rachel?” He says, “What are you talking about?” I said, “Tomorrow I have to give a name to the rabbi. I’m going in the ocean. I converted.” “You what? I never asked you to do this. I was never expecting.” He started crying on the phone and that’s when he said, “Rachel.” I said, “Okay. That would be it.” When I told the rabbi at the next meeting, he says, “Well, then you’re meeting me Thursday morning at the beach behind the Caribbean Hilton hotel at five in the morning. I go, “Five in the morning? Rabbi, that ocean is ice cold at that hour.” He says, “That will be fine. You’re a young lady. You can handle it.” My grandmother went, my grandfather went, my father went, my brother and my mother, because I asked them to go. They saw when we did it, the three times. When I came out he gave me my wine and then he gave me a shot of brandy, I think, because you need it because you’re shivering, towel. It was ice cold. At that hour in the morning the water in the ocean, even though it’s an island, it’s ice cold. He says, “God bless you.” That’s how we did it. How old were you? 12 I turned nineteen, after I got married. Then, of course, when it was wedding time it turned that we had a picked a date and then later on the rabbi the called and he said, “We can’t do that date.” And I go, “Ooh.” He says, “Passover starts.” Here we were, and I said, “Rabbi, my mother and my father went all the way out of hand. There’s over eight hundred people invited to this wedding on Saturday.” I wanted a small wedding and I said that, and my husband said, “Why don’t you let your mother be happy?” I said, “Okay, but you’ll know why.” I only wanted a hundred and twenty-five people. He says, “Well, it would have to be on this Thursday because Passover begins on that Friday.” I’m sitting here. I said, “Okay, I need a minute with my grandmother and my grandfather, my mom and my dad.” I went in and I told them, “We can’t have the wedding on that day because of Passover; otherwise, it has to be forty days.” She says, “And…?” “But he says we can do it on Thursday night, the night before Passover, and he even suggested, so that you guys don’t lose the money on the big reception, to do a wedding by the justice of the peace in front of the guests, letting them know that we’ve already been married by the Jewish religion.” My grandma says, “And why don’t you want to do that in respect to you guys because that’s your Good Thursday?” And she looked at my mom and she said, “Since I’m still alive and I’m the head of this household, I say you give your daughter that consent. God’s not going to punish any of us.” That’s how we did the Jewish ceremony that Thursday at the temple, because he had friends from Mexico that had come the whole week. Even the cousin of the president of Mexico because they were very good friends, he was there with his wife. We did the wedding that Thursday and then we had the big wedding on Saturday. 13 But then my father, on the Sunday before the week of the wedding, he says, “You’re not wearing your wedding gown on Thursday.” And I go, “Why not?” He says, “He’s not seeing you in the wedding gown for Saturday, so you’ll have to have another one made.” Yes, that’s how things went in my house. It was a crazy week as it was and I had to follow what was my dad’s wishes. We went and I used another one for the Jewish ceremony and then the one that we had for following. When we were at the big wedding, Abe says, “My hands are sweating.” I said, “Well, hush up. You said my mom does it her way.” We were three hours in the old receiving lines. Three hours. In that I paid respect that it was the day after Good Friday. I said, “Mom, just change it from an evening to a lunch reception.” Because it was still their day in their religion. For background music there was this group that was famous, just violins, so they could just play soft background music for nobody to dance. Like we have in every religion, some are just a yearly phase and some follow, and some that follow all the time. We turn around and my husband says, “They’re dancing.” “To what?” “To the music. Look at them. They moved tables and they’re dancing.” I’m going, “Are you kidding me?” He says, “No. You didn’t do it; they did it. Just keep going. I know you didn’t want it for your parents.” I said, “Wow.” Your parents were very open-minded. They were. And your grandmother. She was with me. Grandmas are kind of like that sometimes. How did that transpire? Well, my father used to say that somewhere way back in our ancestors, he knew there were Sephardic Jews. 14 Had that been talked about? It had been talked. I never really paid much attention to it. But he said, “Just don’t ask me because it’s too far back. I can’t remember. But just so when you came it wasn’t a shock.” Tell me about meeting Abe the first time? How did you meet? That’s a funny story. I was in Mexico City. My Omega watch stopped working and in the Zocalo there must have been a hundred jewelry stores. I went to my aunt’s jeweler. My aunt, the one who was the doctor in economics, was doing a special study for one of the high offices in Mexico City about the economy and growth in Mexico. She was on that sabbatical, writing that for them. She had become very good friends with the owner of a jewelry store in Mexico City called Joyeria Plata. It turned out that it was my husband’s partner, which I didn’t know. Of course, that day she said, “I need to go have something fixed, so let’s go.” That summer. She says, “Ooh, I’ve never been down there.” She says, “I know we kept you away from going through the bling-bling because we know how you like it. But we need to go to the joyería, so let’s go.” Abe was coming out from the back, and I looked at him and I go, “Holy cow, this guy’s got bags under the eyes like he hasn’t slept in a couple of days.” My aunt introduced me to Beto and, of course, they introduced me to Abe. We were talking and chatting, and he says, “Would you like me to take you out to coffee?” And I go, “No, thank you.” We left. He called for five days, my aunt’s phone number. I kept saying, “No, thank you.” The last one I said, “I don’t go out with old men.” Because that’s how I see him on that day. He went as far as to tell me, “I had gone out with my brother the night before and didn’t get a lot of sleep. I don’t look that way.” I said, “No, thank you.” So, I hung up. 15 He told his watchmaker to fix in wrong so that I would have to return and he could ask me out. Then my aunt looked at me and said, “Enough is enough. Just say yes to the next coffee or dinner because it’s rude. And I know Beto and I’m going to feel like he’s going to think that my niece has no manners.” I said, “Because you’re my godmother, I guess I have to.” When he called the following day, I said yes. He said, “Okay, I’ll pick you up at seven p.m.” I said, “Okay.” This is an honest truth: When he came to pick me up, I decided to change my nail polish color and kept him waiting outside. But the best part comes when he said, “Okay, let’s go,” I said to all my five aunts, “Okay, let’s go.” I took all my five aunts with me on that first date. Where did you go? We went to a really nice restaurant to have dinner, and from there he said he wanted to go dancing. We went dancing and I said, “Well, you ca