Yuma, AZ – NY Times Profile: Quest For Best Matzoh Brings Satmar Rebbe To Southern Arizona

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    The NY Times article appeared this past Saturday profiling Satmar harvest in ArizonaYuma, AZ – The ongoing battle for religious one-upmanship between warring factions of New York’s Satmar has plunked a contingency of ultra-Orthodox rabbis in the arid town of Yuma, Arizona, where, for seven weeks, they have painstakingly overseen the harvesting of wheat which they hope will allow them to lay claim to New York’s best matzoh.

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    A NEW YORK TIMES (http://bit.ly/19ITpl1) article profiling the harvest reveals an operation that intricately weaves together strict ultra-Orthodox religious guidelines, modern technology and the science of farming, and if all goes well, the cooperation of Mother Nature.

    On a farm owned by a Christian farmer Mr. Tim Dunn, , just five miles from the Mexican border, the Satmar Rebbe, Reb Aaron Teitelbaum, traveled to Yuma, last Monday to give his blessings to the newly harvested wheat, specifically planted in the extremely arid western climate which rarely sees rain in the springtime.

    Photos and video credit:: Yosef Rappaport

    Two rabbis spent seven weeks camped out in trailers abutting the wheat fields, overseeing the forty acres of wheat growing in the southwest corner of Arizona, known for its low humidity and listed by Guinness World Records as the sunniest place on the planet, in order to be able to give assurance that the wheat had not come into contact with moisture of any form, including rain, once it had matured. Despite scorching temperatures, workers were not allowed to carry water in the wheat fields and the unpaved roads could not be washed down in order to ensure that the wheat stayed completely dry.

    The decision by Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum on Yuma began five years ago after an exhaustive scientific search of national weather patterns revealed Yuma to be one of the most arid spots in the U.S. during the wheat harvesting season, and with his brother Rabbi Zalman still using wheat harvested on the East Coast, it seemed a natural fit that the dry southern Arizona climate would allow him a “leg up” in claiming that his matzoh adheres to a more rigorous religious standard.
    Satmar Rebbe disscusing Halacha of wheat with the Rav Spitzer - Dayan of Skver Shul in Lakewood NJ.
    Despite the temperatures estimated to be at 108 degrees, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum the Satmar Rebbe was on site at the wheat fields on Monday, June 24th, giving his blessing to the wheat as the harvest began. The grain will be transported by train to Elizabeth, New Jersey after being cleaned and packed into sealed containers and once it arrives in New Jersey the grain will be sent to matza bakeries in both Brooklyn and Kiryas Joel, with baking set to begin five months before Pesach.

    Rabbi Eli Hershkowitz, manager of the Rutledge Street Satmar Central Matzoh Bakery, estimates that Brooklyn bakeries will produce 80,000 to 100,000 pounds of matza using the Yuma wheat.

    Professor Samuel Heilman, a sociology professor at Queens college whose research focuses on Orthodox Judasim described the decision to use wheat grown in the dry heat of the west, instead of the rainy East Coast climate as a form of one-upmanship between the two rival Satmar factions.

    “One is always looking to be more authoritative than the other and one of the ways they’re making this happen is over matza,” explained Professor Heilman. “Our matza is more kosher than yours, we’re more scrupulous and careful over matza baking than you are.”

    Satmar Rebbe looking out on wheat field about to be harvested from the drivers seat of the massive conbine harvestor

     The Rebbe being greeted by farmer Tim Dunn after participating in harvesting the first row in the combine machine.

    The Rebbe with Rabbi Efraim Shimon Leichtag [C] and Rabbi Benzion Shrasser [R] checking the wheat grains to see if any where sprouted. After checking thousands not even one sprouted was found.

    Left to Right: Tim Dunn, Rabbi Issac Levy (KJ Bakery), Rabbi Elya Hershkowitz (Williamsburg Bakery), Rabbi Getzel Berkowitz Dayan of KJ and the Grand Rebbe.

    Rabbi Benzion Shrasser with his son harvesting by hand for private use.


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    41 Comments
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    birgas
    birgas
    11 years ago

    Interesting that Wheat grown in dessert can be mezake thousands of mehadrim bmitzvot for best matzo.

    11 years ago

      “Our matza is more kosher than yours, we’re more scrupulous and careful over matza baking than you are.”
    I like this professor Heilman , he seems smart and on the button, he has satmer all figured out!!

    finewine8
    finewine8
    11 years ago

    the gamora tells us you can’t cook a food that is cooked.

    Kosher is kosher. not kosher and more kosher.

    11 years ago

    My question is how the New York Times got wind of this story?

    birgas
    birgas
    11 years ago

    If gedolei rabunim from many khiles are shleping themselves to The httest region in the world, in the hottest days in the year, when temperature hit about 110 degree, it must be a very big advantage over wheat grown elsewhere.

    The mere fact that no sprouting is found in millions of grains, is solid proof of that. Beside if wheat grown in the East is chumetz according the the Rasb”a and the Beis Yosef!

    georgewashingtonbridge
    georgewashingtonbridge
    11 years ago

    “Green Acres: The Next Generation”.

    BaruchBendit
    BaruchBendit
    11 years ago

    The Chazon Ish is quoted as having told a talmid:

    “The chilonim (in Eretz Yisroel) will take us seriously when we are as careful on dini momenos (monetary laws) as we are on dini Kashrus.

    A lesson that should be learned by the Satmarim.

    UseYourHead
    UseYourHead
    11 years ago

    Does Hashem care more about getting matzoh wheat from Arizona, or about dealing honestly in business, not defrauding the government, and making peace with your fellow man? I can”t claim to be able to read Hashem’s mind, so to speak, but it is not necessary to do so – I think the Torah makes it rather clear where His priorities are, and where ours should be as well.

    11 years ago

    Now this is a kiddush Hashem!

    villyamsburger
    villyamsburger
    11 years ago

    What does this say about people who eat Matzoh from East Coast wheat?
    Either we are eating chumetz in Pesach or we are simply not involved in a disgusting machlokeh between the 2 satmars.
    I wonder which 1 is true.

    11 years ago

    We are so happy that next Seder we can have the Best Delicious hand Matzos with matzo balls” at our temple on fifth ave Passover celebration.

    TexasJew
    TexasJew
    11 years ago

    If only they would check out their teachers and guidance counselors like they do the wheat, we’d all have a kosher Pasach.

    savtat
    savtat
    11 years ago

    It’s really time to do hidurim in mitzvos bein adam l’chavayro.

    Mark Levin
    Mark Levin
    11 years ago

    Leave it to the NY Slimes to make a big tzimis about something that happensevery year. Oh, and that “professor” who decided this was a shtuch to the brother is a bigger pey tzadi!

    sane
    sane
    11 years ago

    I fail to see any noble quality in this supposed stringency, while this group is simultaneously in violation of an express Torah prohibition of bringing a lawsuit in a secular court.

    birgas
    birgas
    11 years ago

    According to the Rashb”a, if rainwater reaches the wheat in its final ripe stage, the wheat is considered chumetz. As it turns out all what on the East are subject to heavy rainfall during the month June, so make your own calculation.

    11 years ago

    This is not the first time the Satmar brothers were in the NYT. They appeared on the front page of the Metropolitan section as they appeared in NY appellate court to fight each other over who would succeed R. Yoelish. Two gedolei Yisrael going to Arkaos instead of a beis din to fight each other: could there be a bigger chillul Hashem? Dear Rebbes: Forget your shemurah matzo chumros and try following basic shulchan oruch. That the Lakewood yeshiva could give two mechalel Shem shamayim befarhesya such kavod is itself a chillul Hashem

    joseph
    joseph
    11 years ago

    Heilman is a long-time known anti-semite, of the self-hating Jew variety, that can always be counted on a quote designed to subtly poke his deformed finger into the Jew’s eye, for his perception of them being too religious for his likings.

    13Hooper
    13Hooper
    11 years ago

    this is what the reporter is giving over
    Fernanda Santos ‏@fernandaNYT
    @MalkieLun With all due respect, that’s a bunch of baloney. NO ONE PAYS to have a story in the NYTimes.
    @MajorNewsTweets Paid?!? No one in the NYT takes money to cover or not cover anything. You should know better than that.

    leahle
    leahle
    11 years ago

    We have gone from a religion of simple shepherds and farmers to a celebration of obsessive compulsiveness. I refuse to participate in this ridiculous competition to see who can be the most extreme in observance.

    11 years ago

    My Matzos is better than yours… Ho Ho Ho. Merry Smartmas.

    11 years ago

    Pride and Israel and Love of Matzos all in the desert air. Lets hope this does not translate to 40 more years in the desert with the poor Christian farmer! I say “Next year in Mexico”. (Oy!).

    I_Am_Me
    I_Am_Me
    11 years ago

    You soooo have got to be kidding me!

    I_Am_Me
    I_Am_Me
    11 years ago

    Oh & what’s up with the umbrella???

    oiber-chacham
    oiber-chacham
    11 years ago

    This is a perfect example what CHAZAL had in mind when they coined the phrase “TOIVAL VSHERETZ BEYADO” someone immersing in the MIKVAH while holding on to a dead animal,these two low life brothers who have been fighting in secular court for the last 12 years and causing one of the biggest CHILLUL HASHEMS in recent history,they are now using the MITZVAH of MATZO as a weapon in humiliating and fighting each other,what a shameful and childish spectacle by these ignorant savages

    bewhiskered
    bewhiskered
    11 years ago

    “Please check shulchun Urich או”ח תס”ז ס”ה.”

    No, no! Your original Post #6 stated, “Beside if wheat grown in the East is chumetz according the the Rasb”a and the Beis Yosef!” You are saying that ALL wheat grown in the East USA is חמץ, without any exception! If you notice, the הלכה clearly states דגן שבמחובר שנתייבש לגמרי ואינו צריך ליניקה, which means that once the wheat is completely dry (not green anymore), and is not nourished anymore from the ground, then there is the danger of חמץ. That is specifically why מצה wheat is harvested while it is still green, and not after. The רשב”א says the same- חטים הנקצרים ממקומות שפתו עליהם גשמים כשאינם צריכים לקרקע, or, once the wheat is not nourished anymore from the ground, there is a problem. Your original post stated, “Beside if wheat grown in the East is chumetz,” which is a complete misstatement of the הלכה! You should be more careful when you quote הלכה!

    bewhiskered
    bewhiskered
    11 years ago

    “I’m bringing you the halacha and the facts, it’s up to you to apply your political conclusions to match your agenda.”

    You’re bringing me nothing! Your original post (#6) stated, “Beside if wheat grown in the East is chumetz.” Again, that is totally untrue, and I will not allow you to attempt crawling back from that misstatement of הלכה! These are your own words, not mine! The true crime of what you are saying is that anyone who eats non Yuma wheat grown מצה on פסח is eating חמץ! That is an extremely irresponsible statement, to which no one in his right mind could ever agree!

    Second, where is the מקור for this ‘so called’ דין of מצומחות in ש”ס ופוסקים? Where? Is this something else we’re making up? By making capricious and unaccountable statements like this, you are being מוציא לעז על הראשונים!

    I_Am_Me
    I_Am_Me
    11 years ago

    No one answered me, if it doesn’t rain in Yuma & the rebbe is not ibubutal why is he with N umbrella

    BuckyinWisconsin
    BuckyinWisconsin
    11 years ago

    Yep, a little more chumradik on the Ahavas Yisroel would be in order.