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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                     April 18, 1995, V3, #71
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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What do Lubavitch Chasidim and Coca Cola Have in Common?

By Terri Keefe (Washington)

Four years ago, Chanie Deitsch and her Lubavitcher rabbi husband moved to the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington to instruct fellow Jews about Orthodox Jewish practices. She and her husband run a Hebrew school, a summer camp, and many holiday programs, including the model matzah bakery for children. Mrs. Deitsch says this project has been one of the couple's most successful endeavors because it gives youngsters a chance to make unleavened bread, one of the most important symbols of Passover:

"The process of making matzah and the way that it differs from bread is that matzah has to take 18 minutes or less (to make). As soon as it becomes more than 18 minutes, then it is considered leavened and it is considered sort of like a bread product. So, if a child could actually see that, and understand that you have to mix the water, mix the flour, find out the ingredients that make matzah, make sure that it gets into the oven within 18 minutes -- they have a greater appreciation for matzah."

Chisky Goldstein, a rabbinical student from Detroit, is in charge of the matzah making demonstration. His audience includes 26 four and five-year-olds from the Olam Tikvah preschool in Fairfax, Va. The children are gathered around a long table in the school's cafeteria, looking at him attentively:

Goldstein: "Now, why do we eat matzah on Passover? Why don't we eat something good, like a piece of chocolate cake?"

Child: "The slaves, they carried the matzah on their backs."

Goldstein: "When the Jews were on their way out from Egypt, Pharaoh told them 'go, go, go -- get out fast.'"

Behind Goldstein are two portable canvas stalls, labeled 'flour' and 'water,' designed to show the children how those two elements would be separated in a real, kosher bakery. Each of the stalls has a plastic window, so the children can see inside, and flaps that open to a table between the two stalls. On the table is a large mixing bowl. Goldstein explains the reason for this set-up:

"Why can't we just make the matzah in one room and that would be the way we make matzah? The reason is because in big matzah bakeries, right, if you're going to have flour and water in the same room, they're going to start touching each other and getting mixed up. It's going to sit together longer than 18 minutes and then it won't be matzah anymore and we have to have strictly kosher matzah for Passover. That's why we have it in two sealed off rooms and here we have two little booths to give you an idea of what it is. So I'm going to need now two volunteers; I'm going to need one water boy and one flour girl."

With a little nudging from their teachers, flour girl Deborah and water boy David get in position in their respective booths. The children seem nervous about what to do next. But Chisky Goldstein is quick to reassure them. He says they are just like the man in a real matzah factory, the baker who waits for his cue to mix the two ingredients:

"He doesn't know when to pour the flour. He has a little window, something just about like this but it's a little more sealed off. Now, when they say chemach -- they say flour -- the guy opens up his window and pours the flour into the bowl."

Goldstein holds the bowl as Deborah and David pour in the flour and water. He mixes the dough with his hands and then breaks it apart for the children. If 26 kids are to knead and roll this matzah, he's got to move quickly. No one is timing his demonstration, but technically, he's got just 18 minutes. The matzah maker moves and talks as if a stopwatch were ticking. The children flatten their dough, roll it into circles and prick it with a fork. Then they march single file into the kitchen for the final step: baking.

"Okay guys, it's going to be ready in one minute, it's really going to be ready. Okay, checking out those matzahs ...."

Delighted with their accomplishment as matzah bakers, the children are told they will each get some to take home. Along with the matzah, Lubavitcher Chanie Deitsch says the children also will bring home a deeper understanding of Passover. Teaching four-year-olds about their faith may be a small step, she acknowledges, but Chanie Deitsch says it's a step in the right direction.

Lubavitcher and Jewish educator Deitsch likes to repeat a joke about the members of her Orthodox community. "What do you find wherever in the world you go? Coca-Cola -- and the Lubavitch."

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