There is an interesting article and beautiful photo-essay by James Estrin in yesterday’s New York Times about the Rapaport family, from Borough Park, Brooklyn, New York, who are followers of the Kosov sect of Hasidic Judaism. The Rapaports have maintained a family tradition of baking their own matzo (unleavened bread) for Passover.
While most families buy their matzo ready made from different kosher manufacturers, they preserve a complicated process as “the proper wheat must be used. Water must be drawn from an underground well just after sundown. And, most important, the matzo must be made from start to finish in no more than 18 minutes, so there’s no chance of leavening.” Generations of the family gather together, pray, sing hymns and bake the matzo in a pizza oven in the back yard.
Yosef Rapaport (66) shares how making their own matzo can “bring solace to your soul.” He continues explaining how this family tradition helps him to pass his faith to his children and grandchildren, “to make the matzo with my grandchildren, who are so joyful and eager to follow our ways, is better than winning the lottery.”
I would encourage all of us to promote family traditions that accompany our liturgical rites, so that the faith is not simply something that happens in the sanctuaries of our churches, but also permeates our homes and families.