Film Chronicles the End of an Era for a New York Matzo Factory


When Jewish families and friends gather at Passover tables next week, the ubiquitous accompaniment to their meal—appetizer, side dish, edible history lesson—will be matzo. The crispy cracker, often little more than flour and water, is meant to resemble the flat bread baked by ancient Jews in a hurry while escaping slavery from Egypt. The basic recipe has remained remarkably consistent over the years, as have many of the traditions surrounding it.

Case in point: the Streit’s matzo factory on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which churned out a large chunk of the nation's “bread of affliction” for the better part of a century. But as CityLab reports, while little changed inside the five-floor factory on Rivington Street, outside the neighborhood changed from immigrant haven to well-heeled late-night destination—not such a great place for a noisy factory and its delivery trucks. Last year, the factory was finally sold—for $31 million.

Just in time for Passover, filmmaker Michael Levine has released a documentary about the factory’s story: Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream. (“Leavened with history!” says the Wall Street Journal.) The film tells the tale of the factory from its opening in 1925 through its final days, using archival imagery and interviews with staff, plus plenty of hands-on matzo-making shots. The film opens in New York on April 20, followed by a release in other cities, and is accompanied by an exhibit at the Art on A gallery featuring historical Streit’s photos and machinery. You can watch a trailer for it above.

Fortunately, families who love Streit’s need not worry about their matzo supplies—the factory is reopening in Rockland County later this year, according to CityLab.

[h/t CityLab]

Header image via Jonathunder via Wikipedia // GNU Free Documentation License