Tuesday, March 27, 2007


This year's best "bi'ur chametz" story:-

Police Shut Down Bus Converted Into Matzo-Factory

(CBS/AP) SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. A school bus that had been converted into a supersized oven for Passover matzos, complete with smokestack, exhaust fans and working fire, was fueled by gas lines illegally attached to a nearby house, authorities said Monday.

The bus, in the backyard of a residence owned by the rabbi of a Hasidic Jewish congregation, was turning out thin, crisp matzo crackers for next week's Passover holiday. The rabbi denied there was any danger, and there were indications authorities would let him off the hook after some adjustments.

The bus was attached by plywood to the back of the house and the oven was fueled by wood and gas from lines illegally extended from the house, said Manny Carmona, the village building enforcement officer who joined Scorziello at the site Monday.

However, after inspecting the inside of the house and bus on Monday, Carmona revised his assessment of the situation somewhat, telling reporters, "It's not as hazardous as it looks. The fire is contained properly."

The owner of the bus oven, Rabbi Aaron Winternitz, told reporters that he has been turning out bus matzos for his 50-member Mivtzar Hatorah congregation for the last three years.

Carmona said he would not issue a summons if Winternitz provided "clear drawings and approval by a licensed engineer" by the end of the day Monday. "It looks safe, but you can't go on looks," Carmona said. He also told Winternitz that the bus would have to moved back from the house. "It's too close. If something happens, it could spread to the house," Carmona said.

Winternitz said he understand all the curiosity about his "invention." He said it wasn't the bus' first incarnation. He had bought it from someone who had converted it into a home and a carrier for a race car. "I understand the attention. It's something new that you never saw," he told reporters gathered outside. "Inventions are exciting. People are curious."

But he adamantly denied that it posed a danger. "It's completely false."

The bus is used only during the Passover observance to make about 100 pounds of matzos -- or two pounds per congregant, Winternitz said.

During the weeklong Passover holiday, which begins next Monday night, observant Jews eat matzo -- unleavened bread -- to illustrate how the Israelites had no time to let their bread rise as they fled.

Carmona called the bus oven "very creative." Asked if he'd ever seen anything like it before, the building inspector said: "Nothing close to this one."

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