“You have ten minutes and forty-five seconds left to get your matza into the oven! Keep going!” Rabbi Yisroel Rosenblum called out. About fifty participants, mostly children and teens, focused on finishing their dough before time ran out at Lifetown in Livingston on April 10.
It wasn’t a game show or a competition, but a hands-on experience from the Living Legacy Model Matza Bakery in preparation for Passover. According to Jewish law, no more than eighteen minutes may elapse from the moment water touches the flour until the moment it comes out of the oven– any longer and it’s not kosher for Passover.
As they arrived for the workshop, participants found sheaves of wheat at their place settings. Their first task was to cut the wheat—and in quick succession, grind and sift and transform it into flour. Before mixing it with water, Rabbi Rosenblum set the timer. From then on, the energy in the room intensified. Everyone focused on forming their dough first into a ball, then a flattened pancake they could roll and finally add rows of holes to prevent rising.
“Come on, just two minutes to go! Keep going. Breathe later…Now one minute and 45 seconds!” called Rosenblum. Finally, they baked the matzah and just in time, it was done.
“Learning about what goes into making matza is just a fun way to get into the spirit of the holiday,” said Rabbi Rosenblum, director of the Living Legacy programs. “We’re so pleased to be able to offer this workshop to our volunteers and Friendship Circle families and welcome everyone back into the building.”
Everyone who participated got to taste the matza they made on the spot and left with a box of specially prepared handmade shmura matza for their family seders.
Open Play Day
In addition to the matza bakery, LifeTown offered an Open Play Day at the facility on April 10, bringing families of all ages from across the community to explore the many different shops and play areas that comprise Lifetown. Some headed straight for the pet store, where puppies were ready for cuddling; others created dot art masterpieces and popsicle stick frames in the art room before heading out to bounce in the ball pit.
In the sandbox area, three-year-old Zev and his brother, one-year-old Ori, were playing as their parents, Jason and Anat from Livingston, watched. “It’s such a wonderful, beautiful facility,” said Jason, who said that Zev had just been at Lifetown for a birthday party. “It’s a great place for a Sunday outing.” And turning his attention back to his kids, he added, “Here, it’s just like a day at the beach!”