Memory Lane: The “Poilishe Matzah Bakery”
By: Yehuda Alter
When one drives up 36th Street near 13th Avenue at the edge of Boro Park — anytime starting after Chanukah — the familiar aroma of fresh matzos baking overtakes them.
The Boro Park Shmurah Matzah Bakery has been providing matzos mehudaros to upstanding Jews around the country for a very long time. Many local families have a tradition for the exact date that they bake, each vying for the closest possible one to Pesach. But to the more senior residents of Boro Park, they know this establishment by another name; The Poilishe Matzah Bakery.
The Sadovner Rav, Harav Yisroel Sekula, z”l, a great gaon and tzaddik who later graced the Boro Park community, was the de facto Rav in the Poilisher shtiebel on Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side from 1947. The Polisher shtiebel owned a matzah bakery at 158 Ridge Street (coincidentally, on the same street as the original Shotzer Matzah Bakery), that was certified by Rav Sekula. Yet, in his great piety, when the kehillah sold the bakery to him, he insisted on transferring the authority for kashrus to Harav Moshe Bick, zt”l, saying, “Í’m now a nogei’a b’davar and can no longer honestly give a hechsher.”
Historians point out that, interestingly, Rav Bick, although not a Polish Yid himself, was the Rav of a Poilisher society in the Bronx. He was often on the Lower East Side because he would deliver a shiur at Yeshiva Chasan Sofer. His son, ybl”c, Harav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel Bick continues this tradition and provides the hechsher to this day. After his own relocation to Boro Park, Rav Sekula, sometime in the 70s, moved the bakery to Boro Park, to the location on 36th Street.
But the traditions from the Lower East Side continued. The current Sadovner Rav recalled: “The Kopycznitzer Rebbe, and many other Rabbanim and Rebbes, would come to receive Erev-Pesach matzos, with Rav Bick receiving the coveted matzos baked the first 18 minutes after chatzos. My father also continued to send Erev-Pesach matzos to Harav Moshe Feinstein, who lived on the Lower East Side.”
Reb Moshe Farkas purchased the bakery from the Sadovner Rav in 1975, and sold it in 1993 to Reb Chaim Brown, who runs it to this day — continuing to serve Boro Park for close to four decades.