Streit's: Matzo and the American Dream

Film Info
Director(s):Michael Levine
Editor(s):Michael Levine
Cinematographer:Michael Levine
Country:United States
Year of Production:2016
Running Time:83 min.
Premiere Status:Northern California
Family Relationships
New York/New Yorkers


Free Matinees are generously provided by the Bernard Osher Jewish Philanthropies Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

Just as its iconic pink box has graced the Passover seder tables of generations of American Jews, so, too, Streit’s matzo factory has stood for some 80 years on the Lower East Side’s Rivington Street, in an industrial building created by linking four former tenements, with no loading dock. Fourth- and fifth-generation descendants of founder Aaron Streit, a baker from Austria, attest to the sense of accomplishment they feel in managing the business. Factory workers with 20, 30 and more years of experience take pride in the work they do, with sons continuing in their fathers’ footsteps. The charm of replacing antique machinery with custom-made parts gives way to the need for greater efficiency, and the rising value of Manhattan real estate conflicts with history and tradition (the New York City water in the matzo is regarded by some as the finest in the world) as bistros replace delicatessens in the neighborhood. No longer primarily a destination for locals, Streit’s is now a national brand with distribution a major component of its business. The image this family business has of itself as one that provides for its family of workers is challenged by the need for modernity and the pressures of foreign competition, city street geography and enticing real estate offers. —Sara L. Rubin