Manischewitz is not only a recognized brand name, but it is also a slice of life within Jewish households. Manischewitz: The Matzo Family: The Making of an American Jewish Icon, by Laura Manischewitz Alpern, gives us a book that is an extremely refreshing read on many levels.
The family history, itself, is inspiring. Coupled with the beginnings of the Manischewitz company, Alpern brings the reader a glimpse into the family’s journey from LIthuania to America. She expands on the family ideals, their firm religious beliefs and their dreams of doing well in America.
From the Dov Behr Manischewitz and his Yeshiva studies, to the need to support his family, in a new environment with the help of his wife, Nesha, the book is filled with letters, company data and even photographs that helped Alpern document her family’s business.
Nesha, although relegated to the kitchen throughout most of the book, had a strong undercurrent in her husband’s decision making. He looked to her for advice, and she readily gave it, although her role is not necessarily shown as having equal status with him.
I found it interesting to learn how the matzos were initially baked and sold to the Jewish community. Behr’s staunchness in producing a kosher product is what gained him recognition within his environment. From small beginnings he eventually figured out a way to increase his making of matzos within a factory setting. And, from there, the business expanded through the years to making wine and other products. Manischewitz was a name you could count on for over one hundred years.
In 1990 the business was sold, but the name lingers on in the world of kosher products.
I enjoyed reading how the family was close knit, and how their bonds and ability to communicate were the backbone of the company. While reading it, I munched on matzo with orange marmalade.
I recommend Manischewitz: the Matzo Family: The Making of an American Jewish Icon, by Laura Manischewitz.