If you live in NYC you live within a constantly changing historical tapestry. And part of that tapestry is about to be rewoven. On the corner of Rivington and Suffolk Streets, Lower East Side, is a matzo factory. It was set up originally in 1925 and spread into adjoining tenanted buildings which were hollowed out and then expanded upwards to accommodate the machinery and ovens necessary to churn out 3 million pounds of matzo a year, see the video. Matzo is the specially baked unleavened bread eaten during the Jewish Passover to commemorate the flight from Egypt.
And now it is all about to change. The current machinery is 65 years old and the corner of Rivington and Suffolk is a real estate developer’s dream. So the shift to an existing, modern factory in New jersey will take place in NYC’s summer and this long time piece of L.E.S.’s history will vanish. Think what this means for the staff and customers who love this factory. A factory in the heart of the L.E.S. is now an oddity and not essential but it is deeply painful to all concerned to let go.
Hanging on will achieve nothing for either the L.E.S. or the people associated with this business and its buildings. It is hoped however that the Museum of Jewish History, the New York Historical Society and the Museum of the History of New York will work together to preserve the records, photographs and appropriate relics from this 90 year old factory.
If they do future generations of New Yorkers can more fully apprecaite the impact on NYC’s culture of the hordes of Jewish, East european, German and Italian immigrants who crowded into the L.E.S. in the late 19th Century to the mid 1930-40″s.
NYC is a shining example of acceptance, tolerance and diversity because of all those immigrants. So while where they lived and worked inevitably changes, it is hoped enough of the physical, social and economic historical artifacts remain to remind future New Yorkers of what an amazing hertiage they are heir to.