March 30, 2009

A Day of Shmurah at StreitÕs is Part of Company Tradition

New York… Feature Editor…Yes, Matzohs are still being produced on the Lower East Side. In fact, Streit’s Matzoh produces approximately 37,500 pounds of matzo a day by the same family that has run Streit’s since 1925. Unlike many other large kosher manufacturers, Streit’s is still very much a family business. It is run by fourth and fifth generation Streit family members and has occupied the same factory on 150 Rivington Street since 1925. The supervision for the matzo is provided by Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik, whose father, the famous Rabbi Aharon Soloveichik, first began certifying Streit’s matzoh production in 1957. One of the factory workers has been expertly navigating the matzoh dough through the complex machines since 1989. The machines and ovens themselves date back over 60 years.

A long standing tradition at Streit’s is their annual shmurah matzoh run. Since 1925, for one day each year, the factory produces only the special shmurah matzoh. Shmurah matzoh means that from the time the wheat for the flour was cut, it was supervised to ensure that no water contacted it and that the entire process is done for the sake of a Mitzvah (L’shma). Streit’s doesn’t sell this product, because most people who want shmurah matzo prefer the hand-made type. Rabbi Mayer Kirschner, who assists Rabbi Soloveichik with the supervision, said that there is a greater demand for “18 minute” matzoh than for machine-made shmurah. “18 minute” matzoh (all matzoh must be made within 18 minutes), refers to the first batch of matzoh after all the equipment has been thoroughly cleaned. As Streit’s does clean its machinery vigorously after each run for its shmurah matzoh, all of it is considered 18 minute matzoh as well. This shmurah matzoh is given away to residents of the neighborhood, associated rabbis and selected others as a service and gesture of goodwill to the community.

For Aaron Yagoda and Aaron Gross, the annual shmurah run may not be part of the company’s business, but it is very much a part of tradition and for Streit’s tradition is its business.