The Streit's matzo factory, on the Lower East Side since 1915, is scheduled for demolition, ironically, the week of Passover.
At the same time, Michael Levine's "Streit’s Matzo and the American Dream” will have its premiere at Film Forum from April 20 - 26.
To mark the occasions, Art on A Gallery will feature an exhibit on Streit's, opening later this week.
At the gallery, Michael will be showing photographs from the company's history, along with parts of the factory's antique machinery, which has been in storage since Streit's shuttered last year and moved out of town.
The stippler will be there--that machine that presses the little holes into the matzo--along with the cutting machine and some pieces of the Carnegie Steel rails that guided the swinging baskets of matzo through the factory.
Along with archival prints from history, you'll find the photographs of Joseph O. Holmes, who captured the last days of the Rivington factory, along with a film from the 1940s.
photo by Joseph O. Holmes
As an added treat, artist Judi Harvest will be showing her gold-leafed matzos. She's been gilding the unleavened bread since 2000, but for this show she is using rare pink gold leaf, to match the color on the classic Streit's Passover box.
She will assemble an entire wall of pink gold matzos. They will all be Streit's.
pink gold-leaf matzo by Judi Harvest
The opening of the gallery show is this Thursday, April 14, from 8:00 - 10:00 pm at 24 Ave A. Members of the Streit family will be present, along with some of the factory workers, the artists, and the filmmaker. The event will be both celebration and memorial, a piece of Lower East Side history encapsulated. For a little while.
When news first broke of the closure in 2008, I visited the factory, talked with one of the owners, and took a tour. We said our goodbyes. And then the winds shifted. Streit's was staying. As shown in Levine's poignant film, the family had the contract and a million-dollar check on their desk, but could not bear to sign it. Still, it was only a matter of time. A closure announcement would come again.
I have not been by the factory since it closed. I used to love to watch the men pull the matzo from the oven. Sometimes, I'd get a taste, hot and fresh. During their final Passover week, I bought a pink box of matzos. I have not opened them. The label says, "Baked with Pride, Lower East Side, New York City." And the address on the side is Rivington Street. I'll probably never open them.
The factory will be replaced with luxury condos. Nothing else is possible.