Project Matzah

My letter to congregants for March 2013

Dear Friends

It was a few years ago when a congregant asked me why we don’t make our own matzah.  I didn’t have a ready answer to what is an obvious question and I don’t remember what I said.  Maybe I changed the subject.  But the question has haunted me over the last years so I began research into the possibility of making matzah by hand.

There are several resources for demonstration projects that have religious schools make “fake” matzah (i.e. matzah that is not kosher for Pesach) and there are many matzah factories which offer tours, and maybe give a piece or two of matzah as a memento.  But the question that I was asked wasn’t why we don’t make fake matzah and I was no longer interested in a demonstration project – I wanted to make the Real McCoy.  And so I pressed on and studied the laws of hametz, the chemistry of wheat and the various astronomical theories that inform the customs for gathering appropriate water (really!).  Making real matzah is not uncomplicated, but I’ve convinced myself that it is possible.  And along the way, I’ve discovered that our relationship to matzah is in many ways is a surrogate for our relationship to Judaism.

It’s my hope to share this journey with you in two ways.  The first way is that I hope we will have the opportunity to make matzah for the festival together on March 20th and 21st at the shul.  I can’t guarantee that this will work, and we have to reserve the possibility that we will decide that the matzah we end up making will not be suitable.  It will not be easy, but it is in my opinion doable.  We will learn quite a bit in any case.  The second piece of this is an invitation to join me in the learning and preparing for the making of matzah.  I will share a bit of this in my talks on Shabbat, but most of it I hope to put online in blog form at the address:

Please check in and join us on our journey to making our own matzah.  Wishing everyone a sweet and kosher Pesach!


Rabbi Bill Siemers


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