Every spring Jews around the world celebrate Passover. It's the festival of freedom, and it tells the Exodus story when Jews left Egypt. The centerpiece of the festival is a thin, unleavened bread called matzah. Most Americans are accustomed to buying boxes of it in the supermarket. But in Brooklyn, there's the rare opportunity to indulge in a special, handmade treat.
This handmade matzah is called "shmurah" matza. The word means handmade and English, and it's truly an artisanal craft.
For example, according to Jewish custom the entire process from mixing the dough to breaking the bread must take under 18 minutes. A Rabbinical supervisor watches over the bakeries making sure they are adhering to custom.
Sure, you can buy matzah in the supermarket, but if you're close to Brooklyn why not buy it fresh? You should note, however, that Brooklyn matzah factories are located in orthodox neighborhoods and you should be respectful of their culture. Please read this before your visit--Tips on Visiting Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish, Hassidic Neighborhoods. Here's where you can find this special shmurah matza.
Edited by Alison Lowenstein
Make Your Own Matzah in Crown Heights
In recent years people have started identifying Crown Heights as a hipster haven, a place for partying and socializing. But it's also home to a vibrant Lubavitch community that makes homemade Matzah.
One of the main bakeries is the Lubavitch Matzah Bakery on Albany Avenue. Their store has been in operation for over thirty years and the recipe has remained the same. If you can't make the trip to Brooklyn you can also order matzah from their website.
Chabad of the West Side also hosts matzah baking events in Crown Heights if you're interested in making your own.
Browse Bakeries in Williamsburg
Williamsburg is also one of those trendy areas teeming with boutiques and bars. But South Williamsburg is home to a large Hasidic Satmar community, and it's an entirely different neighborhood.
There are two matzah factories/bakeries that are popular in Williamsburg. Visit the Satmar Central Matzo Bakery (322 Rutledge S) or Congregation YL Satmar Matzoh Bakery (427 Broadway.)
Stop in to Try the Matzah in Borough Park
Jews began settling in Borough Park in the early 1900s, and it's still home to one of the city's (and country's) most vibrant religious Jewish populations.
It's also home to a few matzah bakeries or factories. Two of the famous ones are Kerestir Matzah Bakery (32 Lynch Street) and Boro Park Shmura Matzoh Bakery, (1285 36th Street.) There is also Chareidim Shmurah Matzoh Bakery ( 4312 New Utrecht Avenue.)
Feast on Kosher Food in Flatbush
Flatbush is a historic neighborhood that has had a booming Orthodox Jewish community for over a century. Here you can try all sorts of kosher food, not just matzah on passover.
Your first stop for fresh matzah should be Shatzer Matzos (210 Cortelyou Rd.) After that head to Coney Island Avenue, a short walk away, which has many kosher markets. You can try meats, sweets, and other kosher delights. Most of them are congregated near Avenue J.