The taste of macaroons warm out of the oven at the Manischewitz facility in Newark is hard to match, but supporters at the Super Sunday celebration at the Wilf Jewish Community Center on Dec. 12 will be treated to an array of tastes almost as good.
The company so synonymous with Jewish gatherings will be providing some of the refreshments at the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey’s mega fund-raiser.
This isn’t your bubbe’s Manischewitz — there are new products, a new look, a new emphasis on nutrition, and new markets being targeted — but they are hoping it will be yours. With hundreds of people coming to the Super Sunday phonathon to make calls to donors, take part in mitzva and tzedaka projects, and enjoy the array of entertainments, it will be a prime opportunity for the company to showcase its range of products.
The theme for the day is outreach — part of the federation’s campaign to enrich the Jewish connection for those already involved in the community and to find new ways to bring in the unaffiliated. That meshes neatly with Manischewitz’s goals.
Adina Abramov, the federation’s director of marketing and communications, visited the Newark facility with NJ Jewish News. She said, “Our partnership with Manischewitz is complementary in that I truly see the ‘Manischewitz story’ as representative of the Jewish American experience — both taking root with humble beginnings in the late 1800s and now both fully vibrant players on the national stage.”
The company leaders say that while Orthodox families know its products well because of their focus on kosher shopping, the less observant don’t realize all that they offer. They want to become an everyday choice for people who maybe buy kosher products for Passover or other holidays but don’t think of Manischewitz at other times.
Alain Bankier, president of TMCI Holdings, the corporation that owns Manischewitz, said, “Our objective is to bring a great kosher food experience to the various different parts of the Jewish community, not just with the tried-and-true products but also with new and innovative ones.
“Everyone has had their ‘Manischewitz memories’; now we want to give them new ones.”
At its massive facility, just beyond the Ironbound district, where the head office is soon to be installed too, the company has armies of white-clad workers at huge machines, bottling gefilte fish and matza ball soup, boxing cake mixes, and packaging fresh-baked matza and dozens of other products.
By early next year, Manischewitz intends to have 32 new products on the shelves, for Passover and Purim and any time consumers fancy. They include dark chocolate-covered cherries, roasted and peeled whole chestnuts, and a cupcake “Fun Kit” for kids. They are also bringing in Moroccan-style “fish bites,” a small and spicy alternative to the traditional gefilte fish balls.
After visiting the Newark facility, Abramov said, “Frankly, I was amazed by how many diverse products the Manischewitz group really represents, kind of like us Jews – many different shapes, colors, nationalities, and flavors — but all one big family.”
For Super Sunday, Abramov said, the company has underwritten a significant portion of the cost of tote bags that will be offered to volunteers. “They have also donated snack packs for our children and coupons for all participants,” she said.
The company is also supporting the federation’s “Fans for Cans” program. “We are hoping to attract a minimum of 500 sign-ups to the Fans for Cans site,” Abramov said, “and in return, Manischewitz has committed to donate 500 cans of soup to the Jewish Family Service Kosher Food Pantry in Union, which, with winter upon us, I know will be warmly welcomed.”
A number of further collaborations are under discussion, Abramov added, “such as for our popular Supermarket Sweep, their own Manischewitz-sponsored Jewish Heritage Month in the spring, and other programs. There are many mutually beneficial opportunities, and we are very excited about continuing to work with Manischewitz in the future.”