This week The Jewish Daily Forward features the Kickstarter campaign in support of Michael Levine’s Streit’s Matzo documentary film project. The production team has raised $14,000; they’ve got to hit $60,000 by the end of May. The documentary, “a story of Matzo and the American Dream on the Lower East Side,” celebrates the Streit family’s decision to stay in the neighborhood in spite of gentrification and competitive pressures.
Levine told The Forward, “You could argue that it would be a more dramatic story of they were, like so many other businesses before them, being forced from the neighborhood… But I honestly think it’s more compelling, and perhaps can have more of a positive impact, to tell the story of a business that has steadfastly refused to leave, to modernize their equipment at the expense of their workers’ jobs.”
The trailer is pretty great – more detailed than many videos you see on Kickstarter. Have a look. You might also be interested in a discovery the filmmakers made the other day. It’s recounted on producer Michael Green’s Facebook page:
Since we started on this project, there have been rumors of a Streit’s factory even older than the one on Rivington Street that’s currently in use, that at the turn of the 20th century, founder Aron Streit was producing matzo by hand in a basement on nearby Pitt Street. But no one in the family could pinpoint the address. Yesterday, from out of nowhere, Anthony Zapata, a longtime employee revealed that he knew the location! When he started working at Streit’s in the early 1980’s, there was one employee, nearly 90 years old, who had worked for Aron Streit on Pitt Street all those years ago, and had told Anthony stories about the old days before machine matzo. Anthony and I walked the three blocks to Pitt Street, and sure enough, there it was, at 65 Pitt Street, the 19th century tenement building where Streit’s got its start! Our plan is, next, to find a resident willing to let us examine the basement for any signs of the old factory, and to bring the current Streit’s owners along to see where their great-grandfather lived and worked a hundred years ago. Incidentally, the old man who told Anthony the story: he worked at Streit’s for nearly 70 years before finally retiring in the mid 1980s – he died a week later.