- Hardcover: 202 pages
- Publisher: KTAV Publishing House (January 31, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1602800030
- ISBN-13: 978-1602800038
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,821,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Manischewitz: The Matzo Family: The Making of an American Jewish Icon
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Matzo—unleavened bread—is eaten on the Jewish holiday of Passover. The B. Manischewitz Company was started 120 years ago, two years after its founder, Dov Behr, immigrated to Cincinnati from Salant, Lithuania, in 1886. He first slaughtered and peddled kosher meat, then branched out into matzo baking. The author, Behr’s great-granddaughter, chronicles the family’s history and the technology for baking matzos. By the 1920s, Manischewitz had become the world’s largest manufacturer of matzos, producing 1.25 million a day. She reveals that decade after decade, the firm, working within the confines of Jewish law, managed to synthesize the requirements of the faith with the most modem technologies to produce more matzos for more people than any company in Jewish history. Eventually, it exported matzos to Jewish communities around the world and expanded to include such products as gefilte fish and kosher wine. This exhaustively researched book is an engaging account of the family and their matzos. --George Cohen
About the Author
Laura Manischewitz Alpern was born in Cincinnati, where she grew up with stories of her great-grandfather Dov Behr Manischewitz, founder of the Manischewitz Company. Later she lived in New Jersey and Israel, then settled with her husband in Geneva where she raised two daughters and worked for three decades as librarian in an international organization. She is a member of the Geneva Writers Group and has been published in Offshoots; Writing from Geneva.
Top customer reviews
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After reading the book, I bought a copy for an elderly friend of mine, also a Jewish immigrant from Europe, and she found many similarities in her life relating to the place of women, in particular, as reflected in this family history. She was very enthusiastic about the book.
The original photos, letters, and information about the company in more recent times, all add to make the book an important addition to the history of immigrants and their contribution to Americanlife and business. For me, the name Manischewitz is one of the first "brand" names I ever remember seeing as a child, so it was particularly interesting to read about the history of that "brand" and the family who created it.
Ms. Alpern has managed, by way of her thoroughly enjoyable and readable book, to invite us into the Manishewitz home, sharing with us their entry, during times of great economical hardship, into the business of making matzo readily available to families for their Passover seder, and seeing it as a mission.
The modesty of this family is to be admired, and we get a glimpse of the women behind the scenes, who dared not be too outspoken, yet managed many of the family matters with their unfailing intuition.
One can just sail through this book, and I would recommend it as a wonderful Chanukah/Christmas gift.
The first part of the book focuses on Dov Behr Manischewitz's wife Nesha. Unfortunately for the reader, Nesha is relegated to the kitchen and therefore the reader barely sees what's going on with the Manischewitz company (which actually has an interesting history and has had a surprising impact on American Jewry). The book talks some about the second generation, and then zips through the last few generations, pausing just long enough for the author to complain about how she was teased in elementary school because her last name was Manischewitz. While writing about the family might seem interesting to the author, and perhaps anyone else in the Manischewitz family, to us it's about as interesting as looking at hours of someone else's family vacation slides.
By way of example, the interview later points out that the author fabricates her forebear's decision to go into the matzo business, and his inspiration: "Alpern imagines the inspiration came to him [Dov Behr Manischewitz] at Passover, as the family drank ... and he has an interaction with his daughter ..."
All of which begs the question: How much fiction takes a biography -- personal, corporate, or otherwise -- outside the realm of non-fiction, wherein it ceases to be a biography?