STREIT’S: MATZO AND THE AMERICAN DREAM
Final Day - Tuesday, May 10
DIRECTED BY MICHAEL LEVINE
Around 1915, Aron Streit, an Austrian immigrant, opened a matzo factory on the Lower East Side. Located in a lumpy conglomeration of four 19th-century tenement buildings on Rivington Street, Streit’s Matzo is still the gold standard for the distinctive cracker found in almost every Jewish household. “The recipe? It’s found in the Bible,” quips one of the great-grandsons, part of the family that continues to run the factory today. The quality of New York City’s water is given some credit, but so too is the “time warp” machinery, the Rube Goldbergian intricacy of which the film lovingly admires. Matzo moves along a conveyer belt of creaky baskets as it cools and travels to another level of the building; meanwhile two rabbis ensure that kosher standards are upheld. Last fall, after years of deliberation (and failing machinery), the family moved their factory from the now-gentrified LES to Rockland County. “Like snowflakes, no two matzos are the same,” they assure us. Celebrate Passover with this movie.
Art on A Gallery is presenting an exhibit celebrating the film, through May 5. Click here for details.
Presented with generous support from the Joan S. Constantiner Fund for Jewish and Holocaust Film.
USA • 2016 • 80 MINS. • MENEMSHA FILMS
“(A) lyrical, often funny treatment of the mixed blessings of family and the evanescence of human institutions.”
– George Robinson, The Jewish Week
“Far more than a Jewish Horatio Alger story. It is that, of course — the film documents the story of an immigrant baker who came to the United States and started what ultimately became the largest (and now only) privately owned matzah company in the country. But it’s also an inspirational story of a family that didn’t just want to take the money and run. In a way, too, it’s about a modern Diaspora.”
– Curt Schleier, JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
“It’s not just about unleavened bread. Levine trains his lens on the question of how – and at what cost – a community can find a recipe for missing heritage with the present.”
– Jessica Leigh Hester, The Atlantic’s CityLab