5 Questions With | Moishe Perl

Moishe PerlCarolyn StanleyMoishe Perl.

“What, no bread? Nothing?” balked one customer upon entering Moishe’s Bake Shop Monday afternoon, greeted by bare bread cubbies and stark glass cases typically teeming with doughy Jewish treats. “What’s going on here?” another disappointed patron wondered aloud, stumbling out of the empty store.

But for many regulars of Moishe’s on Second Avenue near East Seventh Street, the shop’s temporary transformation is nothing new, and certainly no cause for alarm. The bakery, which locked its doors on Monday in observance of the Jewish holiday Passover, will reopen at the end of eight days, in accordance with Kosher law.

So why does Jewish law forbid bread during Pesach, and what does Moishe Perl do when he’s not allowed to bake? The Local met up with Mr. Perl hours before sundown and the first night of Passover to find out.


Why does Moishe’s Bake Shop and other Jewish bakeries shut their doors during the Passover holiday? You’re required to remove all of the Chametz, or leavened products, right?


As you know, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt for 210 years, and the Pesach holiday, and its meals, are in remembrance of that. According to the bible, when the Israelites finally left Egypt during the Exodus, they were in a hurry and had no time for their bread to rise. Today, to remember their journey, Jews eat unleavened bread, called Matzah, and to follow Kosher law, we clean everything of Chametz. The shop bakes Chametz, so we spent all last night and this morning cleaning out everything, and at home we do the same. We’ve been preparing for the holiday for weeks.

IMG_9109Hadas Goshen Empty trays have replaced the usual spread at Moishe’s Bake Shop, as Mr. Perl and Kosher bakers around the world observe the Jewish holiday Passover

Do you miss baking during Passover?


I don’t even think about it! I’m too busy doing other important things. I go to Shul everyday -twice a day – and spend time with my family, my nine children and their grandchildren. The children and the grandchildren are the most important part of the holidays, it’s really for them, keeping the traditions, coming together and teaching them about our ancestors. The kids, they ask a lot of questions during the Passover meal and why we eat certain foods, and its a wonderful time to explain our history.


How do your customers react to the closure?


Oh, the customers understand! We’ve closed for Pesach every year for 40 years, it’s no surprise. And you know, people might say that we’re losing business, because we close during the holiday or on Saturdays, but our faith gives us support, and health, happiness and joy for our entire life.


As a baker, you must have high standards for baked goods, leavened or unleavened. So where do you get your Matzah?


I actually bake it myself, with my family. We have an appointment at a Kosher Matzah bakery in Brooklyn, where we do it ourselves – actually I’m running late to meet them there, now, after this interview. You know, Passover’s starting soon, in just a few hours!

Mr. Perl pauses to answer a phone call.

That was one of my grandchildren, they wanted to make sure I bring macaroons, their favorite.


What are your favorite things to make during Passover?


We make Matzah brei, latkes, knishes – but my favorite is Matzo Chremsel, or pancakes. Here, would you like a recipe? Write it down.

Here’s Moishe’s Matzo Chremsel Recipe (as told to The Local):

IMG_9103Hadas Goshen A would-be customer peers into the darkened windows of Moishe’s Bake Shop, which closed for Passover on Monday afternoon.

  • 6 eggs
  • approx. 3 Matzahs
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup table wine
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar

Take 6 eggs (both parts) and mix well, until the eggs are white and snowy. Add one half cup vegetable oil, mix in with a little salt, stir in a cup of vegetable oil, a cup of wine, a cup of orange juice, until well mixed. Then add one full cup of sugar, mix again, slowly adding and crushing the Matzahs. Continue to stir and crush until the mixture thickens, then prepare a frying pan on the stove. Heat about a half inch of oil before scooping the Matzo mixture into the sizzling pan. Let one side crisp and brown, then flip to the other side. Remove, cool, and enjoy your Matzo Chremsler!

Add fruits or nuts, or your favorite topping, and these should tide you over until Moishe’s Bake Shop reopens for business after the holiday. But be prepared to rub elbows with all the other customers rushing back to Moishe’s when Passover ends; according to Mr. Perl, the end of Pesach marks a busy time for Jewish bakers.