On Manhattan’s Lower East Side, in a series of four nondescript brick tenement buildings, sits the Streit’s Matzo factory. In 1925, when Aron Streit opened the factory’s doors, it sat at the heart of the nations largest Jewish immigrant community. Today, in its fifth generation of family ownership, in a rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side, it remains as the last family owned matzo factory in America.
This is a place rooted in history and tradition, and not only in the sense that the recipe for their product is 3,000 years old. The machinery still used here to bake and pack 40% of the nation’s matzo is as old as the factory itself. The owners still sit at their great-grandfathers’ desks, declining to clear the drawers of the contents left by their forbearers. They have, again and again, refused exorbitant sums offered by developers for their real estate, and resisted modernizing the facility, worried at the potential effects on their fiercely loyal workforce, made up of neighborhood residents and immigrants from around the world, many of whom have been working there for 30 years or more.
And yet, while in many ways Streit’s may seem a relic from another age, they continue to thrive, consistently receiving more orders than they can fill.
In a neighborhood where the Jewish immigrants have long ago moved on, in a nation where progress and profits trump all else, where manufacturing has left the cities if not the country, where family businesses are bought out by giant corporations and workers move from job to low paying job, Streit’s remains a Lower East Side institution, and a glimmer of hope for the American Dream.
This film, a feature-length documentary, will tell the story of Streit’s – of the factory, of the family, of its workers, of its place in the rich history of the Lower East Side and in America. It is a story of tradition, of resilience and resistance, of the perseverance of the Jewish people, and of immigrants of all faiths, so many of whom have found home in the Lower East Side, behind the doors of Streit’s, or in the matzo they bake.