Much has changed since more than 100 jobs were slashed at the Manischewitz Matzo Factory in Newark almost two years ago.
Sheets and sheets of matzo used to be made at the factory on Avenue K, which runs parallel to Route 9, every spring for Passover.
“When you do it in a commercial factory, it’s quite a challenge not to have any dough carry over from one batch to the next,” said Rabbi Aron Hayum. The matzo has to be baked in 18 minutes under Jewish law in order to be kosher for Passover.
Mashgiaches, who are trained rabbician servants, used to sit in the factory with timers to ensure the matzo was baked in the right amount of time so the dough didn’t rise, which is part of Jewish tradition.
The baking process doesn’t take place at the Manischewitz Newark factory anymore.
The matzo is now baked in Jerusalem, Israel and the Newark factory has been converted into a warehouse, said Hayum, who directs operations at the Manischewitz Newark factory and runs the kosher program there.
Other Manischewitz Passover products — including potato pancake mix, matzo ball mix and coconut macaroons — are still made here in the Garden State.
The move to convert the Newark plant into a warehouse was a decision made by the Manischewitz board to modernize the 130-year-old company.
“Housing distribution is a very different type of business than warehouse manufacturing,” Hayum said. “But on the flip-side of that, there are many similarities.”
Because so much of Manischewitz’s work happens during the time leading up to Passover, it’s crunch time at the facility. Passover begins on April 19 and ends on April 27.
“We used to be crazy busy manufacturing,” Hayum said. “Now we’re crazy busy taking orders, shipping and distributing the stuff.”
People seem to like that the matzo is now baked in Israel, according to Hayum.
“It’s kind of a feel-good thing,” Hayum said. “Many people think it’s more authentic or true to their roots.”
The Manischewitz Company first opened in 1888 as a small matzo bakery in Cincinnati, Ohio. The bakery was opened by Rabbi Dov Behr.
Over the years the factory has grown and has more locations and sells hundreds of products.
The Manischewitz Factory website says its goal is to “continue to provide foods made from simple ingredients that help create family memories in the kitchen.”
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