Pesach for me is all about Manischewitz

Manischewitz for a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s in America was as ubiquitous to Pesach as Matzah. Truly, a Pesach Seder wasn’t complete unless Elijah’s cup was overflowing with Manischewitz and a selection of Manischewitz boxed cake-mix cakes weren’t served for dessert.

Now here is the thing: I believe that some of the most Jewish traits out there are pragmatism, perseverance and grit. Without them, how do you explain thousands of years of history trying to knock us down and relentlessly getting back up again! Based on his pragmatism alone Rabbi Dov Ber Manichewitz enters the Hall of Fame for Gritty Jews!

And here is why:

Born to the last name Abramson in the Lithuanian town of Salant, he purchased the passport of a dead man in order to avoid conscription to the Tsarist army. The name on the passport? Dov Behr Manischewitz.

Arriving in America with his wife Nesha in 1888, he made his home in Cincinnati, Ohio and worked as a Rabbi and Shochet (traditional Jewish butcher). He soon found that in his new home town, matzahs were hard to come by, so he started producing them in his basement for friends and family. Demand soon grew, and he had to move into a bakery; by 1900, the demand was so high that he was able to open a massive factory.

The demand came from an unexpected quarter.

At the turn of the century, Cincinnati was the starting point for many of pioneers heading West in their caravans, and to make the long and arduous journey possible they needed easily transportable non-perishable foods. matzah was the perfect staple, something the Jews fleeing Egypt knew all about.

Manischewitz was soon producing 75,000 pound of matzah daily with a majority of it being sold to pioneers heading West. No wonder it can still be found in virtually every supermarket in the USA, to this day!

Where do you find your own grit? What is the driver for your perseverance? Mine is inspirational stories and food.

– Ilana

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