The story of matzah begins in Exodus, continues online

The passage is at

Much has been written about the symbolic meaning of matzah and its place in the formation of the Jewish people. The Chabad site – ?R2BE12EF3 — offers an interpretation: "The characteristic of leavened dough (chametz) is that it rises and swells, symbolizing pride and boastfulness. A matzah, on the other hand, is thin and flat, suggesting meekness and humility. Passover teaches us that chametz — arrogance –is the very antithesis of the ideal of Torah."

Matzah has also become a modern symbol of survival. Yuriy Kheyfetz is 74 and lives in Moscow. He remembers that 60 years ago, a Jew would come to his house to bake matzah for his family: "We never had a seder at home…but for some reason, my parents were not giving up the tradition of baking and eating matzot once a year."

This fascinating article — bk970411/ikey.htm — traces the role that matzah played in the Soviet Union during a time when the state could forbid Jews to perform major Jewish rites but could not tell them what they should eat.

Most of us are used to stopping by the store to pick up a few boxes of machine-made matzah from companies like Manischewitz — — Israel's Matzot Rishon – — and Yehuda Matzos — But handmade shmurah (ritually perfect) matzot are gaining in popularity. David Kibbe has captured the dedication and devotion to detail needed to make these matzot. He follows Satmar Chassidim of Kiryas Joel, N.Y., who work for three months next to the stifling heat of 1,200-degree ovens to bake kosher hand-made matzot. His article is at

Apparently, shmurah matzah is gaining in popularity outside the fervently religious community. In a Jewish Telegraphic Agency article —

matzo.shtml — Randi Jaffe says members of her Brooklyn Reform temple don't care that it's shmurah. "It's the fact that it's round and bumpy and doesn't look like the square, perfect ones. It's a much more palpable connection to the ancient tradition. You can really imagine it going on someone's shoulder and baking in the desert sun as the biblical Exodus story tells us the original matzah did while our ancestors fled their slavery in Egypt, heading for a new world."

Many children and adults now get a chance to bake their own matzot at "Model Matzah Bakeries" operated by Chabad-Lubavitch. You can follow along as the kids of Congregation Beth Sholom of Corona, near Los Angeles, transform flour and water into the ancient food at If you don't have access to a matzah bakery, you can watch a meticulous step-by-step demonstration of how matzah is made at a Brooklyn bakery — And if you'd like to try it at home, take a look at Marcy Goldman's recipe for Homemade Matzah. It's at

As Goldman mentions, her recipe is not in accordance with Passover law and should not be used for the holiday. But it can be a lot of fun to see how your work compares to that of the professionals.

If you would like to decorate your seder table with matzot, you can download some free matzah clip art at

Matzot are central to Passover and while many people look forward to them, not everyone has acquired a taste for our "bread of affliction." According to an often-told story, Marilyn Monroe was served matzah ball soup for three meals in a row. Not too impressed, she asked, "Isn't there any other part of the matzah you can eat?" The story is at

I guess she never had a chance to eat a matzah concoction prepared by the likes of Wolfgang Puck. A few years ago at the post-Academy Award celebrations, the chef-to-the-stars tried something different. He served 1,600 Tinsel Town biggies high-calorie hors d'oeuvres including smoked salmon on Oscar-shaped matzah crackers. The item is at news/9tin5th1.htm

No word on their availability for your seder. Yet.