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The Ravel Films, no. 4 - Rita Faces Life and Discovers Afikomen (1946)

Benita Ravel Neumann

Silent | 1946

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    This intertitled home movie from El Paso's Ravel family captures scenes of baby Rita where she first "Faces Life" then "Discovers Afikomen." In the first scene, Rita is seen holding the April 8, 1946 issue of Life Magazine (sold for 10 cents), and in the second scene, she is eating the matzah afikomen. Afikoman is a piece of matzah that is set aside to eat as a desert after the seder meal; often it is hidden for the children to find as a way to occupy them during the feast.

    Dr. Vincent Ravel was a lifetime El Pasoan born to two Jewish Lithuanian immigrants. He graduated from El Paso High School before attending medical school at Baylor University, doing post-graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania, then returning to El Paso to become one of the first radiologists in the region to be certified by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners. He also served six years in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He was a pillar of the El Paso community at large, as well as a Jewish community leader. He was a member of B'nai Zion Synagogue, a director of radiology at two El Paso hospitals, and served on the boards of the El Paso Symphony, the El Paso Museum of Art, Liberty Hall, and the El Paso Coliseum. He donated a large collection of Judacia to the University of Texas at El Paso, which remains one of the most prominent Judacia collections in Texas.

    Ravel's father, Joseph Ravel, opened a pawn shop with his nephew, Sam Ravel, in 1904 where they once sold guns to Pancho Villa. That and other rich stories from the Ravel family's early days in Texas can be found in this oral interview from the UTEP Library's Special Collections.