Not Just for Kids : Hands-On at the Matzah Bakery

Not Just for Kids : Hands-On at the Matzah Bakery

by Mushkie Junik - Rochester, NY

March 24, 2015

For decades now, these days before Passover have brought the holiday excitement to thousands of children Chabad’s model matzah bakeries. The powerful, hands-on experience of baking matzah, in which children, baker’s hats on heads, learned how matzah is created from scratch, grinding the wheat, and mixing the dough, shaping the not-always-round-matzahs, has indelibly been etched into their memories.

Organizers take care to keep the children entertained and involved. Volunteers are called up to stand in special booths marked flour and water to show the importance of keeping the two separate. Carefully they are poured into a bowl and mixed. The second the water touches the flour, the race is on. You have only 18 minutes to get the dough kneaded, shaped, and in the oven before it turns into chametz. For the children it is a time to see the upcoming holiday in a new light.

The tradition continues, but this year at Chabad of Rochester, Rabbi Nechemia Vogel decided to appeal the inner child of his community’s adults. After 30 years of catering to generations of children, the Rochester Matzah Bakery opened its doors to an adults night only event. It was their turn to watch the clock as they kneaded the dough, taking care not to go over the 18 minutes while learning about the mystical meanings behind every step in the process.

A wine tasting spiked with the rabbi’s Chasidic insights to the four-cups and the seder traditions raised the experience to an adult level, preparing them to celebrate the holiday with a greater appreciation for the practices and customs of the seder and the weeklong holiday.

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