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Jerusalem's matza factory

April 17, 2011 14:29

An inside look at an automated production line mixing flour, water, and tradition.

The Jerusalem Post

The Jerusalem Post | News. (photo credit:JPost Staff)

At the “Matzot Yehuda” baking factory in Jerusalem, 200 workers on three shifts are churning out matzohs in time for the Jewish festival of Passover, which begins April 18 at sundown. 

“Inside Israel” was granted exclusive access to this automated facility, from its three, 30-meter-high, 200-ton-capacity flour silos, to the inner workings of its automated production line.

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This 90 year-old family bakery produces several types of matzot, including those known as shmura, which are made from flour and water and are watched from the time the wheat is harvested and all through the baking process.

Workers feed the dough into vast processors. Moments later, broad, paper-thin sheets of dough emerge on conveyor belts. The sheets are perforated in order to prevent the dough from rising, then cut into individual squares. Minutes later, the crispy crackers emerge from the ovens, where they cool down, undergo inspection  and are then packed into cartons.

According to the Bible, the ancient Israelites left Egypt in such haste that they could not wait for their bread dough to rise. Matza was the resulting product.

In keeping with the biblical prohibition against leavened bread,  the production line grinds to a halt every 18 minutes before any dough can rise. Workers hose down bins and vats and use pressurized air-dusters to clean conveyor belts and crevices.

To keep up with demand – it produces matzohs both for domestic Israeli consumption and ships to North and South America, Europe, and Australia – “Matzot Yehuda” begins its Passover baking season six months in advance.

“We produce matzohs for Jews all over the world,” said factory spokesman Michael Kander, noting the factory's daily production capacity of 15 tons per day.

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