Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream – Passover Lunch and Film Program
Free for members / Non-members $7
RSVP by April 7
We will gather at Noon in Speen Hall for – what else? – Streit’s matzo and hot soup. Bring a side or salad for yourself and, if you like. a dessert to share — Kosher for Passover food only (no noodles, bread or baked goods with leavening, no pork or shellfish). The film, which runs 65 minutes, will begin at 12:30 P.M.
On Manhattan’s Lower East Side, in a series of four nondescript brick tenement buildings, sits the Streit’s Matzo factory. In 1925, when Aron Streit opened the factory’s doors, it sat at the heart of the nations largest Jewish immigrant community. Today, in its fifth generation of family ownership, in a rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side, it remains as the last family owned matzo factory in America. Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream takes audiences on a nostalgic tour of the last family-owned matzo factory in the U.S., still baking a 3,000-year-old recipe. This January, the New York Times carried news of the family’s decision to move production from the Lower East Side to a yet-to-be-determined site in New Jersey, ending an era for the company.
While other matzo companies have modernized, Streit’s is a piece of living history, churning out 40 percent of the nation’s unleavened bread on prewar machinery as old as the factory itself. The sense of tradition and resilience is reflected in the owners, inheritors of a five-generation Jewish family business. Filmmaker Michael Levine captures the characters within the story, in particular the loyal and surprisingly diverse factory employees, some of whom have worked at Streit’s for decades. Even in the highly gentrified Lower East Side, their colorful on-camera anecdotes represent the continuation of the immigrant dream.
While lamenting an old New York lost to modernity, Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream celebrates a venerable Jewish institution still thriving on family ties. It is a story of tradition and resilience, of the perseverance of the Jewish people, and of immigrants of all faith, so many of whom have found a home on the Lower East Side, behind the doors of Streit’s, or in the matzo they bake.