The children eagerly entered the SKA gym, anticipating their upcoming activity: matzah-baking. Reb Michoel, Reb Yossi, and Reb Shabsi of Chabad presented a dramatic rendition of the background story of Pesach, starting from how the Jewish people originally ended up in Mitzrayim to our spectacular exit through Hashem’s Divine intervention. They heard how Bnei Yisrael did not have time to let the yeast rise so they just mixed the flour and water and let it bake in the hot desert sun, explaining why we eat crunchy munchy matzah on Pesach. Reb Michoel explained the process of separating the wheat seeds from the stalk as two helpful assistants blew and blew the pieces of chaff until only the seeds remained. The children had an opportunity to flex their muscles and grit their teeth as they turned the handle of the mini flour mill and ground the seeds into flour. Whew! That was hard work!
The next step in the matzah-baking process began when, with Reb Michoel’s help, everyone shouted, “L’sheim matzos mitzvah,” after which he explained that we say these words to acknowledge that we are performing the mitzvah of making matzah so that we can be mekayeim the mitzvah of eating matzah on Pesach. More assistants were called upon to draw water from Be’er Miriam and to stand in one of two separate booths labeled kemach (flour) and mayim (water). When Reb Michoel gave the signal and started the one-of-a-kind 18-minute clock, one assistant handed him a pitcher of water, and then the second handed him a pitcher of flour. He mixed the dough quickly, as the children lined up alongside tables with their rolling pins, waiting for a piece of dough. They quickly rolled it out, flattened it, and made holes with a really cool spiky roller to keep the dough from rising. The children were amazed at how short 18 minutes could be. They then carried their circular pieces of dough on their rolling pins to the special matzah oven. Quick as a flash, the matzah was ready! What a delicious aroma! The children couldn’t wait to eat their matzah for lunch and they even got to take home their very own box of shemurahmatzahkosherl’Pesach. Back in their classrooms, many of the children baked challah and filled in Venn diagrams with the differences and similarities between the matzah and challah. The final question the children had to answer was which one they thought tasted better. Lucky for them they were able to enjoy the taste of both!