There was something new and something old at the Manischewitz plant in Newark last week.
New: a production run of 500 cases of kosher-for-Passover shmura matzah. Following the move in 2007 from the kosher food manufacturer’s plant in Jersey City, its home for 76 years, to the state-of-the-art factory in Newark, the new plant produced its Passover goods as usual. But it was not prepared to make shmura (Hebrew for guarded) matzah, which requires that the wheat be supervised from the time of harvesting.
Old: retro wooden boxes, patterned after the containers in which the firm’s original Passover matzah was sold in 1881. Some 1,000 cases of matzah in the wooden containers were shipped out this week. The wooden boxes are an outgrowth of last year’s 120th anniversary celebrations at Manischewitz.
“It was a major milestone for us,” 120 years being the Jewish symbol of a long and complete life, says David Rossi, vice president of marketing.
The wood is the type used in classic cigar boxes, Rossi says. “Although I don’t recommend smoking the matzah.”
The standard kosher-for-Passover matzah, more than three million pounds of it, comes under supervision at the time of milling.
The resumed shmura matzah production came near the conclusion of the factory’s August-to-April kosher-for-Passover schedule — which begins and ends with matzah meal, about 4.5 million pounds, and includes 11 varieties of matzah as well as macaroons and various baked goods. The shmura matzah was a cause for celebration, with more than a dozen prominent rabbis invited to observe the computerized production.
“A momentous day,” Rossi says.
After the shmura matzan run came a kosher meal.
“Absolutely,” Rossi says. “There was matzah right off the line.”