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JCC preschoolers make matzah

The students are busy rolling out matzah dough with their teachers Ms. Brittany (foreground) and Ms. Crystal (background, left)

Passover preparations were kicked into high gear at the Sam Pomeranz Jewish Community Center of Syracuse as Chabad Lubavitch of CNY brought its Model Matzah Bakery to the center’s children March 23-25. Preschoolers in the JCC’s Jerome and Phyllis Charney Early Childhood Development Program (ECDP) got a firsthand lesson on all things matzah as they made and baked their own unleavened bread.

“The children had a great time rolling their own matzah and then tasting the end result of their work,” said Pam Ranieri, the JCC’s Early Childhood Program assistant director. “This is such a wonderful hands-on activity and learning experience for our students each year. Everyone had lots of fun.”

Model Matzah Bakery volunteer Natan Eisenberg passes out the matzah dough to be rolled.Teaching about matzah’s significance in the Passover holiday and why it is flat is a key piece of the Model Matzah Bakery’s activities. The ECDP students also learned how the wheat kernels are separated, ground into flour, mixed, kneaded and rolled. Each child took turns grinding kernels on a stone hand mill before rolling their own matzahs.

The Model Matzah Bakery is funded by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Central New York. The program is modeled after the famous Hand Shmura Matzah Bakeries in Brooklyn and Jerusalem. Shmura, which means "watched" in Hebrew, describes the round handmade Matzahs in which the wheat is carefully watched and protected from any contact with water from the moment of harvest on until the matzahs are ready to be kneaded into dough and baked.

“It was a lot of fun teaching the kids about making matzah,” said Model Matzah Bakery volunteer Natan Eisenberg. “They were all very well behaved.”

For more information about the JCC’s Early Childhood Development Program, call 315-445-2040, ext. 120.