Bread Is Out, Matzo Is In

Passover is in full swing for observant Jews, and the New Jersey Star-Ledger has an intriguing tale of the shtar mechirat chametz, or the legal document that symbolically transfers ownership of the foods forbidden during Passover to a non-Jew. (During Passover, you’re not only supposed to not eat certain food, you’re not supposed to own it either.) So the chametz is either dumped outright or hidden in an out-of-the-way place, and a shtar mechirat chametz is signed that says legally someone else owns it.

In New Brunswick, New Jersey, it seems a fellow named Jose Mendez is the Bread King. Mendez works at a synagogue, and during this Passover season, he is the legal owner of thousands of packages of bread. He also has the legal right to eat what he owns, but, like most signatories, he generally never even sees the bread he owns. He doesn’t get paid, either: The Jews contracting with Mendez pay $18 for the privilege of legally unloading their bread, and the cash is donated to Jewish charity.

Speaking of matzo, the New York Times’ City Room blog has another fascinating Passover-related tale from some newly opened records at the American Jewish Historical Society in Manhattan, which detail the formation of the Association for the Free Distribution of Matzos to the Poor and how the association raised money to get much-needed Passover matzo into the hands of the indigent in 1858.

Image source: flickr member RonAlmog under Creative Commons