This article was originally published on Jewish Insider.
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Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Thursday tried his luck at baking matzah as he seeks to earn the support of the Jewish community and compete for delegates in the New York primary later this month.
Flanked by Jewish community leaders and guided by Rabbi Moshe Winner of Chabad Neshoma Center, Cruz toured the Chabad Model Matzah Bakery in Brighton Beach. The Model Matzah Bakery at Chabad Neshoma Center in Brooklyn is one of hundreds run by Chabad-Lubavitch, around the world, to teach children about Passover in an interactive, hands-on way.
After posing for pictures, Cruz joined a group of young kids and started rolling a matzah. As he was rolling the matzah, Cruz told one the community leaders that were accompanying him that the story of the exodus is familiar to him and that he was privileged to attend several seders in the past.
Chaskel Bennett, a local community leader and board member of Agudath Israel of America told Jewish Insider that he chatted with the Texas Senator at the dough table, telling him that the Jewish story of survival has been an ongoing saga for generations, “And this special country has allowed and encouraged our people to flourish and stay true to our heritage because of the religious freedoms guaranteed by the constitution.” To which Cruz responded that he has made it his mission to protect religious freedom in the United States.
“It’s hole-y matzo,” Cruz joked as he observed that the matzah rolled by a girl aside him had many holes. Cruz was then offered to put the matzah in the oven, as he asked about the difference between this oven and a pizza oven.
“Next year in Jerusalem,” Cruz said at one point, a phrase that is recited at the conclusion of a Seder. When told that because Passover had not yet come, the appropriate phrase would be “this year in Jerusalem” at this stage, Cruz remarked, “Well, next year in Jerusalem, hopefully I’ll need a bigger plane to get there.”
Cruz then took a bite of the fresh baked matzah as some in the crowd started singing “Dayenu.”
As he exited the building, Cruz was met with cheers from the crowd – mostly Orthodox Jewish supporters and onlookers – gathered outside. “Jews for Cruz,” several Hasidic men yelled.
“We are fortunate to enjoy tremendous support in the Jewish community here in New York and across the country,” Cruz told Jewish Insider. “I think that’s the result of having built a long record – fighting to strengthen our relationship with the nation of Israel and fighting to defend religious liberty.”
Asked if he expects to see his steadfast support of Israel pay off with votes in the April 19 primary, Cruz said, “I certainly hope so. It the right thing to do so, regardless, but I would be grateful if it also earned the support of many people in New York and elsewhere.”
Cruz faces an uphill battle in the New York primary. According to a new Monmouth poll, Trump has the support of 52 percent of likely GOP voters in New York followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 25 percent. Cruz is in third place with 17 percent.
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