New York City’s rules to force pizzerias that use wood- or coal-burning ovens to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 75% could put Jewish matzah bakeries out of business, affecting Jews’ ability to observe the Passover holiday.
Matzah is unleavened bread made strictly of flour and water. It must be mixed, rolled, and baked within 18 minutes, or it is not considered kosher for Passover, because the bread must not be allowed to rise at all.
Though it may be eaten year-round, matzah is required for the Passover seder, or festive meal. It is also the only form of bread that may be eaten throughout the eight-day holiday (observed for seven days in Israel).
It symbolizes both slavery and freedom: it is the “bread of affliction” that would only be eaten by slaves, and it is also what the Israelites baked when they left Egypt for freedom in a hurry without time to let their bread rise.
As Exodus 12:39 says: “And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had taken out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, since they had been driven out of Egypt and could not delay; nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.”
Because Passover is a reenactment of the Exodus from Egypt, Jews commemorate the passage to freedom by eating matzah, together with other foods that symbolize aspects of the holiday.
Matzah is also the source for the unleavened bread consumed during Christian communion ceremonies, as it was the bread to which Jesus referred during the Last Supper (Luke 22:26), which was a Passover seder.
As Breitbart News noted last week, New York has told pizzerias that use wood and coal ovens — which can be made to burn much hotter than gas ovens — that they have to cut their carbon emissions, or face large fines.
The New York Post reports that matzah bakeries face a similar fate — and may be forced out of business, affecting a city with a large Jewish population, and important religious communities, especially in Brooklyn:
Proposed city rules that would severely limit the use of coal- and wood-burning ovens for pizza shops could also flatten New York’s traditional matzah bakeries, business owners and community leaders told The Post.
Alter Eckstein, 38, a manager of the Satmar Broadway Matzah Bakery, which is not affiliated with Satmar Matzah Bakery, said his shop had spent more than $600,000 on filtering systems in anticipation of the new rules — and to appease neighbors.
“This is the religious tradition for all these years. Gas stoves can’t be as hot as coal and wood. It’s also about the religion. This is how we bake for the past thousands of years and we don’t want to change anything,” he said.
It is likely that the new rules will affect a variety of other ethnic restaurants in the diverse city, many of which rely on coal or wood ovens. Last week, a protester threw pizza at City Hall in protest at the new regulations.