The Soviet Jews Who Risked Persecution for the Sake of Matzah

Lugging suitcases or large woven bags—anything big enough to hold a carton of matzah without raising suspicion—tens of thousands made their way to underground bakeries.

A man baking round handmade shmurah matzah. Anthony Pescatore/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images.

A man baking round handmade shmurah matzah. Anthony Pescatore/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images.

Observation
April 28 2016
About the author

Dovid Margolin is an associate editor at Chabad.org, where he writes on Jewish life around the world, with a particular interest in Russian Jewish history.


They came from all over Moscow. In the 1950s and 60s, beginning about a month before Passover each year, they’d get on an elektrichika streetcar and travel an hour or more to the Bolshevo station on the outskirts of the city, lugging suitcases or large woven bags—anything big enough to hold a carton of matzah without raising the suspicion of informers or the official enforcers of Soviet anti-Jewish oppression. Of those who came more or less surreptitiously to the Bolshevo home of Aharon Chazan, some purchased his round handmade shmurah matzah, others the square and less expensive hand-cranked “machine” kind.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

More about: Jewish World, Passover, Religion & Holidays, Russian Jewry, Soviet Union