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The Kerestir Matzo Bakery legacy begins close to sixty years ago, when Harav R’ Gavriel Yehuda Neuschloss z”l, a prominent member of the Williamsburg community - originating from Serdeheli, was directed by the Grand Rabbi of Skver Zt”l to research and addresss the need for a heimishe matzo bakery in New York.
According to the Rabbe’s instructions, his intentions were not merely to have an additional bakery constructed, but to recreate the level of chumros and hiddurim from ‘der alter heim’; to offer a product of utmost value, l’mehadrin min ha’mehadrin.
R’ Gavriel Yehuda promptly dedicated himself to this holy task, and with the blessing of the rebbe built the bakery and began producing hand-made matzos, which were sold to the pious yidden in town.
Thus was created the post-war novelty of buying ready-made matzos, mehuder as though it were baked in one’s home, an achievement that’s greatly appreciated by the heimishe tzibbur to this day.
Kerestir matzos are famous for their unmatched stringencies and chumros in kashrus, in addition to being a most crispy and tasty delicacy. Our method is simple: every dough, every matzah, every order, is looked upon as if it’s the sole purpose of the bakery. In other words, we never consider ourselves to be a commercial company, and only supply as much as we can handle whilst strictly adhering to our kashrus and quality guidelines.
Starting from the golden wheat harvesting time, (which actually takes place just a few short weeks after Pesach!) our expert mashgichim, led by the renowned Rabbi Yehoshua Leifer shlita - who established the famous ‘mamleches oiz vehudar’ and is dayan of New Square, spend many hours in the fields, meticulously viewing and selecting the wheat which will be used for kerestir hand matzos. Careful attention is given to ensure perfection in kashrus, as well as taste, which depend a lot on the quality of the wheat and flour.
Over the years, Rabbi Leifer was zocheh to join his illustrious father in law, the great tzaddik R’ Moshe Neushloss Zt”l, and later on the skvere dayan hagaon R’ Shmuel Efrayim Zalman Ungar zt”l, when they themselves performed the holy task of ‘shmurah harvesting’ for kerestir hand matzos.
Many other prominent gedolim have graced the bakery with their presence, namely The Rebbe of Skver zt”l, The Satmer Rebbe zt”l, R’ Shlomo Bobover zt”l and the Rebbe of Viznitz shlita. The bobov dayan R’ Chaim Yaakov Tauber shlita, and the viznitz rav R’ Yitzchok Yochenen Hager shlita, are in the bakery yearly to oversee their kehilla’s matzo run.
The bakery originally operated under the strict supervision of R’ Moshe Neuschloss zt”l and the Berach Moshe of Satmar zt”l, and now continues to be strictly guided by the famous rav hamachsher, the Volover Rav; who is well-known for being makpid on ‘kashrus mehuder’ all year round, and especially on Pesach foods.
The hired workers in kerestir are selected and interviewed by the mashgiach of the Volover Rav, who chooses responsible candidates that can be relied upon throughout.
Kerestir operates on a small enough scale to ensure thorough care; each matzoh is carefully inspected by the ‘matzoh maivinim’ during and after the baking process. The kneading, rolling, etc. take place in quick succesion, leaving no room for error. The rolling table has place for only two matzos! This prevents pile ups from occuring, so that no matzoh can get stuck midway. All matzos are transferred without pause to the famous brick oven powered by oak and ash firewood.
Kerestir has kept to all the original guidelines set forth by the founding gedolim, while also adding some hiddurim that became possible with later innovations. One of the main chumros of kerestir is the position of the oven door, which faces away from the kneading table, thus keeping the temperatures cool to prevent the dough from rising. Recent developements include wrapping the matzo rods with a special kosher l’pesach paper, which is changed between runs and eliminates the issue of dough remaining on the rods chalilah.
Despite the prohibitive cost, a special production of the paper is done with our personal rav hamachsher, the Volover rav, on premises.
Another amazing innovation was the installment of an electrical device on the ‘redel tisch’ which moves paper along the table while the puncturing takes place, at a special pace which does not disrupt the process, but keeps dough out of the holes that can occur on the table while working. Although costy at first, this has proven to be an extremely successful venture in the quest for continuous growth in kashrus and hiddurim.
People constantly inquire about the secret to kerestir’s superiority in taste and texture. What makes their matzos so delicately crisp, so delicious, and easy to digest?
The answer is actually quite simple, and similar to the one which keeps our kashrus excellence in place.
While our facility benefits from nearly sixty years of experience in mixing the right flours, kneading to the exact thickness, baking to a perfect crisp, and storing at optimal temperatures; it’s our non-commercial status which truly enhances the taste and beauty of Kerestir Hand Matzos.