Grapevine: Saving for ‘shmura’

MATZAH, the bread of affliction, should cost very little, but matzah shmura is a different story altogether.

Matza Shmora  (photo credit: SARA HERSHKOF/ TPS)
Matza Shmora
(photo credit: SARA HERSHKOF/ TPS)
■ MATZAH, THE the bread of affliction, should cost very little, but matzah shmura is a different story altogether.
There are certain matzah bakeries where the price is lowered if purchasers come to bake their own matzot. Dignitaries are often honored in this way at Kfar Chabad, where it is more a case of religious outreach than the level of observance on the part of the dignitary.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg, the director of Chabad of Rehavia, has been taking orders for hand-baked, whole wheat matzah shmura baked under the strict supervision of Rabbi Yisroel Yosef Hakohen Hendel, the senior Chabad rabbi of Migdal Ha’emek. Prices are NIS 25 for a box of three matzot for Seder night, and NIS 130 for a kilo of matzah. Although Goldberg has been taking orders, the matzot will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis.
For those who may not be aware of how matzah shmura (guarded matzah) differs from regular machine-baked matzot, the wheat is kept under strict supervision from the time it is harvested and taken to the mill for grinding to ensure that it does not come into contact with water or any form of moisture, which would render it leavened. All of the utensils used for processing must be clean and dry. The wheat must be baked on the day that it is ground and any equipment that is used must be cleaned at close intervals to ensure that nothing sticks to each new batch of dough during the kneading process. The water that is mixed with the wheat is also guarded and, when mixed with the wheat to form a dough, it must be completely and evenly flat when kneaded. It is placed in the oven for exactly 18 minutes, and among the super Orthodox, it is important to eat from the first batch of matzot that went into the oven. The matzah shmura that is being sold by Goldberg comes into that category.
■ DESPITE THE fuss being made by the Likud’s Miri Regev and the Labor Party’s Avi Gabbay about perceived discrimination against the Sephardi or Mizrachi (Eastern) population, one place that stands out for respecting Sephardi traditions in music, literature and academia is Beit Avi Chai, where Sephardi singers and lecturers are frequently in the program lineup. This is one place where the ethnic genie remains in the bottle, and everyone is treated with equal respect.
Among the pre-Passover events coming up at Beit Avi Chai is a combination treat of a lecture and musical evening featuring Dr. Meir Buzaglo, who will talk about the religious, cultural and social traditions of Moroccan Jews, coupled with performances by Rabbi Haim Louk and Amir Benayoun, each of whom is a magnificent singer in his own right, but who together will create a riveting musical experience. Louk is very much a team player and actually enjoys appearing on stage with other highly talented singers, applauding them when they stretch out the high notes. Elad Levi is responsible for the musical arrangements for the Monday, April 8, event.
■ HUSBAND-AND-wife team Gideon Remez and Isabella Ginor, who have written and lectured extensively on Russian involvement in the Middle East, this week had the pleasure of joining their good friend Prof. Stephen Blank, senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, who was a guest lecturer at the Hebrew University’s Truman Institute, where he spoke on the strategic consequences of Russian intervention in Syria and the Middle East. Remez chaired the event, and Ginor was the discussant.
Blank, a PhD in Russian history, was for 25 years a professor of Russian national security studies and US national security affairs at the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College. He also taught at the US Air Force University Center for Aerospace Doctrine, the University of Texas and the University of California. He has published more than 1,000 articles, and has authored or edited 15 books.
Remez, a former foreign affairs editor and anchorman at Israel Radio, is the son of Aharon Remez, who was the second commander of the Israel Air Force, and the grandson of David Remez, who was one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence and the country’s first transportation minister. Later, he also served as education minister.
Ginor was born in Soviet Ukraine and migrated to Israel in 1967. She worked for several Israeli newspapers, specializing in the Soviet Union and its successor republics. She has also been the Russian-language correspondent for media outlets in England, France, Australia and Russia. Both Ginor and Remez are associate fellows at the Truman Institute.