A man who answered the phone at the Shmura Matzoh Bakery in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, New York, a full four weeks before the holiday laughed when asked if he would talk about the bakery's work. "I don't have time. It is so busy here. Now it's very, very busy," he said.
However, "it's expensive for the whole holiday," he added. So, for the rest of the holiday, he and many other people will switch to factory-made matzo.
The best-known story of matzo's origins is that as Jews prepared to flee bondage in Egypt, they had no time to let their bread dough rise before baking it.
But Tropper points out that that story doesn't take into account that "we were preparing for six months to leave. . . . We could have prepared a couple of corned beef sandwiches."
Joking aside, he noted that matzo, the "bread of affliction" -- cheap, portable and nonperishable -- was fed to Jewish slaves.
"It's symbolic of the Jews' struggle throughout the ages," Tropper said. "Even at our weakest, poorest point, we share what we have."
Matzo also is a sign of humility.
"The dough rising represents the ego, haughtiness," Pearson said. "One of the lessons of Passover is to get rid of our ego, to reflect."
For such a weighty symbol, a trip through the Model Matzah Bakery is raucous.
Pearson and six other rabbinical students have transformed the social hall into several stations, ending with a bakery, a room full of long, paper-covered tables.
The floor has been covered with fake grass to protect the carpet. Each place has a dowel, a docker, flour and a hunk of dough.
As the children put on hats printed with the words "I baked my own matzah at the Model Matzah Bakery," Shmukler -- now in the role of chief baker -- says, "Secure your hat before your friends'."
Under his direction, the kids roll the dough to rounds the size of pita -- though sometimes misshapen -- and puncture them so they stay flat when baked. By this point, many children are wearing as much flour as they have kneaded.
"Simplicity is the key if you want to make a nice matzo," Pearson tells them.