After we completed grinding all of the wheat, we went to bake the matzos. In earlier years we would bake in a padriad, the Bucharian community matzah bakery. A few families would gather together and it took just several hours to bake all of the matzos they needed. But now that we had all of this flour, enough to feed the entire Chabad community, we needed some more time. Since we lived in perpetual fear that someone would raiseWe lived in perpetual fear alarm about the religious commotion taking place in the bakery, we looked for someone who would be willing to rent his house to us for a few days so we could bake the matzos with all of the extra precautions customary in Chabad.

There were years that we baked in the home of R. Yitzchak Chai Ledayev, a former student in the underground Tomchei Tmimim in Samarkand during World War II. Other years the “bakery” was situated at the home of Binyamin the Fisherman, so called despite the fact that he never caught fish, neither from the sea nor from the river; he would simply purchase from the fishermen and sell his merchandise in the market.

Binyamin the Fisherman owned a large yard that held an oven for baking matzos. The Bucharian ovens were constructed like the ovens of Talmudic times. Unlike today’s matzah ovens, where the fire burns on the side and the matzos are placed on the floor of the oven, in the Bucharian ovens, the fire was on the bottom and the matzah dough had to be pressed against the roof and two walls of the oven.

One had to be something of an expert in this art in order for the matzos to properly stick to the walls and not drop into the burning coals below. Our first attempts at this were pretty clueless, so before we had mastered the skill, we asked the Bucharian women to fill in for us amateurs. As time elapsed we learned the ropes and our yeshiva boys took over.

In the earlier years the work had primarily been done by my brother Berel and R. Dovid Mishulovin. Later on, when we grew older, R. Michoel Mishulovin, R. Yaakov Lerner, R. Mordechai Goldschmidt and I joined as well. As the years passed, others got involved in the matzah baking as well: R. Yitzchok Mishulovin, R. Yosef Volovik, R. Moshe Lerner and R. Benzion Goldschmidt.

The difficulty with employing local workers was that they were not accustomed to our stringencies and extra precautions. For example, in the process of attaching the matzos to the oven walls, they would place a vessel of water near the oven, and prior to sticking the matzos they would dip their hand in the water and smear it on the matzah! The water gave the matzah dough a stickier consistency, thereby enabling it to remain glued to the walls, but this was one of the first things we eliminated. The water was used throughout the day and it was almost certain that particles from the first matzah batch remained in the water and had likely leavened.

Since we baked the matzos without smearing them with water first, we had to force the matzos onto the walls of the oven to make them stick. The extra force weakened the oven to theEvery year we used a new oven extent that by the end of our baking, it was close to falling apart. This enhanced the Halachic standard of our matzos in a way we hadn't anticipated: every year we used a new oven.

Along with using additional force, we stuck the matzos to the walls of the oven with the aid of a small, round cushion. We would place the matzah on one side, and on the other side of the cushion there was a pocket-like depression. We would stick our hand into the pocket and press the matzah onto the wall. The drawback with using the same cushion for all of the matzos was that residue of matzah dough that remained on the cushion would become leavened after eighteen minutes. At first we would clean and scrape the cushions between each matza with a specially designated brush, but that did not satisfy us. Due to the speed with which they needed to be cleaned, we were not sure they were being sufficiently cleaned. Moreover, since the cushion became heated each time it went into the oven, we were afraid that this hastened the leavening of the matzos even more.

It finally dawned on my brother Berel that there was a simple solution. By attaching a piece of paper to the cushion and positioning the matzos on top of the paper the matzah would not come in contact with the heated cushion. We would no longer need to clean the cushion between uses, as we could simply replace the paper with each new matza.

Placing paper into the oven seemed dangerous, so the the idea was rejected at first, but after several attempts we managed to thrust the cushion with the paper in and out of the oven quickly enough without the fire singeing the paper. We prepared a large quantity of paper and two or three cushions. One of the boys would stand near the oven and fasten paper to the cushions with safety pins, and after every use he would replace the paper.

Every year we would buy new plywood covers for the tables. We would also cover the table with paper, and change the paper every fifteen minutes so that no dough over eighteen minutes old could remain in the bakery.

ToEvery year we would buy new plywood covers for the tables perforate the rolled-out matzah dough, the local matzah bakers would use a wooden rolling pin into which small nails were inserted. Of course, it was very hard to clean this rolling pin. We would clean it with a metal brush, but when we tried to kosher the nails by passing a flame over them, we almost burned the rolling pin.

We decided to replace the wooden rolling pin with an iron one that we would be able to kosher. Over time, we prepared a rolling pin to which a number of wheels were attached. This enabled us to quicken the piercing process and keep the matzah exposed for less of time.