Nostalgia Sunday – Dagon flour mill
Matzah, the unleavened bread of affliction as it’s affectionately known, is the only breadstuff Jews traditionally eat on Passover. The real deal is made from flour and water only — no sweet wine, egg or garlic matzot at our Seder, thank you very much!
In Israel, 75% of the 3 million tons of our grain imports — including the wheat which makes that flour — comes in via the Haifa Port. It is then stored in a grain terminal with a nominal storage capacity of 90,000 tons. Now, that’s a lotta flour.
The grain silo, which was inaugurated in 1953, is one of Haifa’s most distinctive buildings. It is operated under an extended license by the Dagon Israel Granaries Company.
A few details, courtesy of the Haifa Port Authority: “The silo has three elevators, two mechanical and one pneumatic, that operate on the quay where water depth reaches 13.8 meters. The elevators unload grain from ships and transfer it to the grain silo by a system of conveyer belts installed inside a concrete bridge.”
“The three elevators have a throughput of about 1800 tons per hour. The mechanical elevators were built locally according to an original Israeli design which has since been patented in many countries around the world.”
“Stored grain is loaded from the silo onto rail-cars and trucks at a rate of about 15,000 tons per day. The silo is equipped for dust extraction and separation, fumigation, sorting, weighing and sampling.”
The building was designed by by architect Joseph (Ossip) Klarwein, which is perhaps best known for having also designed Israel’s Knesset building.
Dagon also houses an archeological museum, the Dagon Grain Museum, which presents the different ways in which grain was cultivated and processed in pre-modern times.
The exhibition includes an archeological collection on the subject of grain in Israeli history and a Jewish ethnological collection on the subject of bread. Imagine, these are the sort of storage jars that our forefathers — and foremothers in particular — used in baking the first unleavened flatbreads that got this whole thing started.
Before Dagon, there was Rothschild-funded Palestine Flour Mills. In the film clip below from 1928, you can see this charming structure and the modern mass production of matzot that are — as the subtitle proudly states — shipped from Haifa, city of Industry in the Land of Israel to Jews throughout the Diaspora.
For a modern take on life in Israel with (and without) matza, see this post. And a Happy Passover to all!