Making Matzah and Traveling Back In Time

April 10, 2011

Mishy hiding in the wooden pyramid.

On Friday, I organized three tours of 200 people in total to visit a local matzah factory located in Westwood, near UCLA. It’s part of my need to offer families educational and fun experiences.

Every year for ten days, as a lead up to Passover, a local Chabad gives the opportunity for children and adults of all ages to watch a re-enactment of the exodus of Israelites from Egypt and then let all the children make matzah. It is a secret field trip destination for those in the know – if you’re not affiliated with a Jewish organization.

Moses telling us his words from God.

The first room we sat in was decorated with images of pyramids, with a wooden pyramid/door. When we entered, my daughter quickly wanted to go inside pyramid and hide. We hid until I had to check people in and then short video played where we went back in time and met Moses, who told us God has mentioned it was time for him to ask the Pharaoh to free the Israelites in  Egypt. He said we must all go to see the Pharaoh and if he doesn’t free the Jews, to boo him.

Moses mentioning the coming plagues.

We were led into another room where we met Pharaoh and his sidekick. This section, while informative, had some humor I wished could have been left out – references to Charlie Sheen and other current events that took me out of the re-enactment. Being a mother of a three-year old, there were also certain aspects of the plague I would have liked if it were handled simpler. That being said, I was impressed with the actor’s commitment and production values. The Chabad didn’t skimp.

Exiting Egypt.

After the Pharaoh agreed to free the Jews, we were free to learn about making matzah.

Mishy feeding the ram wheat.

Another actor, dressed as a farmer, introduced his ram and talked about why matzah was made – because the Israelites did not have time to make bread due to the time constraint in leaving Egypt. He then talked to us about the ingredients of matzah – any type of flour and water and showed us how to separate the wheat from its chaff. We all got a chance to do that with our own individual piece of wheat.

Grinding the wheat kernels.

Asking for two volunteers, he demonstrated how to grind the wheat kernels into flour and then lead us into another room where another volunteer got us well water.

Is that a nail in the water?

Mixing flour with water and getting his hands dirty, he told us how long it takes to bake matzah – 18 minutes.

Mixing the flour with water.

Finally, it was time for all the children who wanted to, to make their own matzah and we were led to our final room – the bakery!

Rolling the dough.

Each child was given a work station with a small amount of dough, a rolling-pin, and a special instrument to create holes into the flattened dough.

Putting the holes into the dough.

Carrying the raw matzah to the baker.

Placing the raw matzah on the pan.

The baker puts it in the oven.

Then we ate the matzah! No pictures of that. We were too busy eating. Mishy said it was yummy.

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