As students at Rutgers walked down College Ave a few days before Passover this year, the aroma of freshly baked matzah filled the streets as Jewish students baked the unleavened bread in preparation of Passover at Chabad’s weekly JCafe.
Chabad’s Social Program Coordinator Marli Dinovitzer, RU ’20, helped set up the model matzah bakery booths of water and flour, with volunteers Coby Cunningham and Avery Katz. Stationed at the booths were Chabad President Nicole Collins and Vice-President Brittany Liebes, with Marli in the middle quickly mixing the ingredients to make the dough.
“Baking matzahs the way our ancestors did 3,300 years ago by hand is a great opportunity for students to get involved and get a real-feel for what matzah represents – the simple bread of affliction – made of only two ingredients – baked quickly under 18 minutes before the dough has time to rise,” stated Rabbi Baruch Goodman, Chabad’s Campus Activities Director. “The students had a great time rushing at their stations rolling out the dough, making the perforations, running the dough over to the ovens, and flash baking the matzahs.”
“L’shaim Matzahs Mitzvah!” was heard being shouted by all participants throughout the baking, a statement of intent that is said during the baking that means, “for the sake of the mitzvah of baking matzahs for Passover!”
When the matzahs were all baked, well under the 18 minute deadline, students washed and made the hamotzei blessing tasting their soft, pita-like, “matzah creations.” Chumus spreads were distributed, and everyone commented on how delicious the baked products were despite their lack of salt, eggs, or sugar. Actual kosher for Passover matzah is baked under very strict, chometz-free conditions with special Passover flour and in Passover ovens.
“I really enjoyed the event as it gave me a tangible experience with Passover, something I will remember, especially when sitting at the Seder table with my family this year,” added Shayna Dulitz, one of the head bakers at the event. “I felt good to be involved in the baking; I felt kneaded!”