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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.
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Lots of Tagelach, Only One By Moishe’s


making kichelCarolyn Stanley From top: tagelach, hamentaschen and preparing kichel.

Tonight, all over the world, Jews will complete their last meal of the year with a pinch of tagelach, then end their Yom Kippur fast with another sweet bite.

Recipes for the traditional sticky, honey-coated amalgamation of pastry dough, nuts and fruit piled loosely into pyramids are passed down through generations. But, Moishe Perl says, his tagelach is the best.

“The other companies who make it don’t know how to make it,” said Mr. Perl, the Moishe in Moishe’s Home Made Kosher Bake Shop on Second Avenue. And he’s not sharing his recipe. But, he revealed, his version involves four kinds of nuts, two kinds of dried fruit and a special kind of flour.

Many different cultures have a version of tagelach, and its hyper-sweet taste is not for everyone. But people cling to traditions, and so Moishe’s was a busy bakery this last few weeks as Jews celebrated Rosh Hashanah and now, tonight, Yom Kippur, the end of the 10-day-long Jewish new year celebration.

Yom Kippur is a day of prayer, reflection, atonement, and, for the observant, a 25-hour fast begins just before sundown tonight. Two meals bookend the fast: an afternoon feast to fuel up for the long day ahead, and the breaking of the fast shortly after sundown Saturday.

That’s where Moishe’s tagelach comes in.

Mr. Perl said the dish is filled with symbolism: “We all have our ups and downs, we go nuts sometimes, we have our dry moments.” Covering the mixture in honey is a way to “make everything sweet,” or make peace with the events of the year.
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