The "New York Times" profiles Kosher food matriarch Regina Margareten at age 95
December 24, 1957
Born in Hungary on December 25, 1862 [some sources say 1863], Regina Margareten came to the U.S. as a young bride in 1883. With her husband and her parents, she helped to open a grocery store on New York’s Lower East Side. The first year in New York, the family members baked Passover matzo for themselves. The second year, they made enough to sell in the store, and the matzo business soon became the family’s sole occupation.
After Regina’s husband died in 1923, she was formally named treasurer of Horowitz Brothers & Margareten Company and became one of the company's directors. She held these positions for the rest of her life. Margareten also acted as the company’s quality control department, tasting every batch of matzo. By 1932, Horowitz Brothers & Margareten Company was using 45 thousand barrels of flour and grossing over one million dollars per year.
As she continued her work well past a usual retirement age, Margareten became an object of interest to the media. The New York Times profiled her in 1942, when she celebrated her 80th birthday, and again at her 91st. At 80, she was described as the “gayest dancer at [the] party;” at 91, the Times called her “a sturdy, mentally alert little woman.” On December 24, 1957, the Times ran one last profile, the day before Margareten’s 95th birthday. The article noted that she was still at her desk at 8:30 every weekday morning, staying there until 7pm each day during the busy months before Passover.
In addition to her work at the business, Margareten was the matriarch of an extended family of over 400 members. Her obituary, which described her as the “matriarch of the Kosher food industry,” also reported that she was a member of over 100 charitable organizations. Throughout her life, she played an important role in the family business, working in her office daily until two weeks before her death in 1959 at age 96.
To learn more about Regina Margareten, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.
Sources:www.Jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Margareten.html; Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 890-891; New York Times, December 14, 1942, December 27, 1954, December 24, 1957.