Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz

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Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz (Abramson)

Also Known As: "Dov Ber Manischewitz (Abramson)"
Birthplace: Russia
Death: March 08, 1914 (56)
Immediate Family:

Son of Yechiel Michael Abramson
Husband of Natalie Esther Manischewitz
Father of Jacob Uria Manischewitz; Rose Roggen; Max Manischewitz; Harry Hirsch Manischewitz; Joseph Manischewitz and 2 others
Brother of Moshe Mendel Abramsohn and Hirsch Abramsohn

Managed by: Malka Mysels
Last Updated:

About Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz

Manischewitz and the Development of Machine-Made Matzah 
in the United States

Days of Wine and Matzos

The Manischewitz tale begins with Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz born in Lithuania. His surname in his native Russia was Abramsohn/Abramson, but he purchased the passport of a dead man named Manischewitz to gain passage to America in 1888. Behr had an older brother, Moshe Mendel Abramson, who stayed behind in Europe.

Dov Behr settled in Cincinnati, where the local Jewish community was having trouble finding Passover matzos, so the rabbi began baking them himself in his basement. When other bakers began copying his original product name, Cincinnati Matzos, he ran ads urging customers to look for his name, and the Manischewitz brand was born.

As sales increased, Rabbi Manischewitz opened a factory with mechanized, continuous-feed gas ovens--a big step up from the coal stoves used by traditional matzo bakeries. That outcome transformed matzos from a local artisanal item into a high-volume product suitable for widespread retail sale--a crucial development as Jewish enclaves spread across America.

Rabbi Manischewitz died in 1914, leaving the company to his five sons, who took it public in 1923. Despite taking a hit in the Depression--profits plummeted from $272,000 in 1929 to $177,000 in 1930--the company built a new factory in New Jersey in 1932.

Manischewitz began to branch out around 1940, introducing kosher crackers, soups, and canned goods. The most lucrative endeavor turned out to be Manischewitz wines, which were produced by an outside company under a licensing agreement and eventually attracted oenophiles' attention beyond the Jewish market.

(The wines' ad slogan, "Man, oh, Manischewitz," became so iconic that Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan was heard exclaiming it during his 1973 moonwalk.)

Bernard Manischewitz, the founder's grandson, expanded the line further over subsequent decades, adding dozens of items, including gefilte fish, borscht.

With no obvious successors, Bernard sold the company to the private Kohlberg & Co. for $42.5 million in 1990, when Manischewitz had an 80% share of the domestic matzo market. In 1998, Manischewitz was sold again, this time to R.A.B. Holdings. It remains America's largest kosher brand, and the world's top matzo manufacturer, with estimated annual sales of $60 million.

Naturalization Records: "Ohio, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1977," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-899S-F39L?cc=1987615&w... : 13 September 2019), Hamilton > Declarations of intention 1850-1902 Kaiser-McPartlin > image 1314 of 1411; county courthouses, Ohio.

1900 U.S. Census: "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MM8D-WY3 : accessed 17 September 2020), Behr, Precinct F Cincinnati City Ward 16, Hamilton, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 135, sheet 5B, family 136, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,277.

1907 U.S. Passport Application: "United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKDX-RLGN : 16 March 2018), Behr Mauischewitz, 1907; citing Passport Application, Ohio, United States, source certificate #33439, Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925, 38, NARA microfilm publications M1490 and M1372 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

1910 U.S. Census: "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MLN5-9YG : accessed 17 September 2020), B Manischewitz, Cincinnati Ward 16, Hamilton, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 190, sheet 7B, family 153, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1192; FHL microfilm 1,375,205.

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Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz's Timeline

December 25, 1857
July 6, 1885
Munich, Upper Bavaria, BY, Germany
July 23, 1886
Ohio, United States
February 6, 1890
April 24, 1891
Ohio, United States
March 8, 1914
Age 56
Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, United States