Mark and I had a great time at the recent Chocolate Expo in the Meadowlands and look forward to participating in several more. It was a pleasure to be able to speak three times: about Heritage Chocolate and early chocolate making; about Holiday Chocolate particularly around Chanukah and Christmas customs; and, about Chocolate Travel, mostly about how we learned so many chocolate stories on our travels due to “my choco-dar,” my radar for chocolate experiences. At our booth visitors touched a cocoa pod and smelled cocoa beans. They also bought signed copies of the book On the Chocolate Trail (Jewish Lights). Children could take home a sheet for coloring cocoa pods and beans. In addition we visited with other vendors and learned about their products, some familiar, some not. We will be at the Expo in Norwalk, Connecticut on Sunday, January 31, 2015. We hope to see you there.
It was great to chat with Sarah Gross, creator of Rescue Chocolate. Proceeds of her business go to support animal rescue.
We also met Lisa Leleu of Luv chocolate, a raw chocolate with healthful ingredients.
Every day is Jewish Labor Day. Jewish tradition expounds the importance of work and those who do it. Even God worked for six days and only then rested on Shabbat.
Chocolate is one medium for uncovering themes of worker equity, food justice and ethical kashrut. Many cocoa farmers, those who tend the cocoa trees and harvest the beans, never taste the final product of chocolate.
Worse, thousands of children, some of them slaves, work cocoa production in West Africa’s Ivory Coast or Ghana, the primary market for much of the world’s cocoa beans. This past July the US Department of Labor released a study that estimated that 2 million children work in hazardous conditions in West African cocoa. It has designated $12 million dollars for programs to reduce these numbers. This builds on the Declaration of Joint Action among the ministers of labor of Ivory Coast and Ghana and the United States from 2010. Unfortunately in this regard, chocolate does not always mix well with Judaism’s value of oshek, honest and fair labor practices.
The Harkin-Engel Protocol, known as the Cocoa Protocol, an international agreement, sought to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the chocolate industry. While at least eight multinational chocolate producers have signed onto the Protocol including Guittard, Nestle, Hershey, M&M/Mars, and Callebaut, it has not yet been fully implemented.
In an effort to provide fair compensation to cocoa farmers, several chocolate companies use fair trade certification systems to establish a minimum price above market value for cocoa. Other chocolate makers prefer to sidestep that certification, claiming that their farmers benefit more from their direct contact and superior financial arrangements. Fair Trade Judaica’s Ilana Schatz offers Fair Trade merchandise and chocolate options. She also promotes guilt free Chanukah gelt produced by Divine Chocolate and Kosher for Passover Fair Trade chocolate from Equal Exchange.
This Labor Day may we choose foods, including chocolate, that honor these everyday Jewish values, enhance our precious resources, sustain our work, and enhance our rest.
I only know about Buckeyes because I have family in Ohio. I love peanut butter and chocolate together so I decided to make them for the first time for a 4th of July party for local friends and family in Cincinnati, mixing in small amounts of presumption, appreciation and exploration. Some might say stupidity. After […]
Fathers, Dominicans that is, helped bridge the New World’s chocolate to the Old World. In 1544 Padres tantalized the Spanish court with chocolate prepared and presented by a Kekchi Maya delegation of New World natives. Fatherly faith indeed aided in spreading chocolate to new regions of the world, to new religious contexts, and to new […]
How does chocolate help you? For me a piece of chocolate here and there smooths transitions from one project to another, one task to the next. At a congregational visit after the Senior Rabbi blessed the Associate on her last Shabbat, someone said, “we need chocolate for our stress at her departure.” At other stops […]
Bartons Chocolate Pops. Bartons Almond Kisses. Do you long for these and other iconic Passover favorites made by Bartons Chocolate? They exist because of the March 12, 1938 Nazi accession of Austria (Anschluss) when Stephen Klein fled Vienna for his life. A Nazi competitor had seized Klein’s chocolate company. He hurriedly left his two children […]
The recently released revisions of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Health bring the conversation about sugar circling ‘round the measuring cup. These warnings against more than 10 teaspoons of added sugar a day boil up questions about nutrition. Surprisingly, just a century ago, nutritionists touted the […]
In my recent travels speaking about On the Chocolate Trail, I have been able to sample some unusual chocolates and related products. Consider these: Atlanta: From Chef Brulee amazing colors make the bon bons and the matzah very appealing. *Chocoley A source for making chocolate creations, including molds, compound chocolate , kits, utensils […]
Chocolate season started on November 1 for Joanne and Jerry Kryszek’s company, Chocosphere. This is the busiest time in their on-line chocolate wholesale and retail company which operates from a warehouse in a Portland suburb. I have known about the company for years and finally had the opportunity to meet the Kryszek’s and see their […]
The Trappistine nun appeared to levitate as she welcomed us at the factory door with urgent questions about how to market chocolate for Father’s Day, about aspects of kosher certification and about increasing their Chanukah sales. Sister Christa-Maria, in her Bavarian tinged English, broke the Benedictine prohibition against speaking to give us a tour of […]
"Babka Love Is Blind, In This Taste Test" in The Jewish Week, Dec. 19, 2014.
"Eight Nights of Chanukah Chocolate" in Jewish Journal, Dec. 14, 2014.
"Schmaltz Finds a New, Younger Audience" by Melissa Clark in The New York Times, Dec. 9, 2014.
JTA-distributed articles "Hanukkah gelt gets a makeover as chocolatiers raise the bar" Haaretz, Nov. 16, 2014, "A call to raise the (chocolate) bar for Hanukkah gelt" The Times of Israel, December 11 2014, and elsewhere.
“A joy for history and chocolate buffs…. Traces the exciting and curious aspects of the evolution of chocolate. The reader is rewarded with fascinating nuggets of chocolate lore, as well as several yummy chocolate recipes.” —Carole Bloom, CCP, author, Intensely Chocolate and Truffles, Candies and Confections
“Meticulously researched and whimsically presented. Fascinating facts, amusing anecdotes and mouth-watering recipes…. An instant classic for chocolate devotees of all faiths!” —Francine Segan, food historian, chocolate expert and James Beard nominated cookbook author of Dolci: Italy’s Sweets
“Bravo! ... Takes us on a roller coaster roll through the history of chocolate, from the beginning when it was only used as a drink to the present day…. A great read.” —Joan Nathan, award-winning cookbook author, Jewish Cooking in America; Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France; and other books
“Yes, separate milk from meat. And wool from linen. But do not separate Jews from chocolate. They shall be yoked together for all time. And now we have the definitive book on the topic, an eloquent and astutely researched history.” —A.J. Jacobs, editor-at-large, Esquire magazine; author of the New York Times bestseller, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, and other books
“This engaging journey into the extraordinary past of a much-loved product is packed with fascinating stories and thrilling bits of information.” —Claudia Roden, food writer and author of almost twenty classic works on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cookery; most recently, the award-winning The Book of Jewish Food
“Calling all chocoholics…. I devoured this book. Readers beware! Stash fine chocolate in your pack before setting off on this delicious journey across time and space.” —Pamela S. Nadell, Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History, American University; author, Women Who Would be Rabbis: A History of Women’s Ordination, 1889–1985
“A treat! Part history, part travelogue, part cookbook, [it] … will tantalize all readers and delight chocoholic ones.” —Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University
“A knowledgeable, surprising and, of course, delicious book. Chocolate lovers (and that includes just about everyone) and Jewish historians alike will be delighted.” —Leah Koenig, author, The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook
“Fascinating and entertaining… if you’re interested in Jews or chocolate, you’re gonna like this book. If you’re interested in both, you’re gonna love it :-). Like chocolate itself—wonderful as a gift, or you could just get one for you yourself.” —Nigel Savage, founder, Hazon: Jewish Inspiration, Sustainable Communities
“A fascinating ramble through the history of chocolate and the roles—sometimes central, sometimes peripheral—that Jews have played in bringing it from the forests of Africa and Spanish America to your table. The recipes are a tasty bonus.” —David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson, authors, A Drizzle of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews
“A delightful, fascinating read full of history, religion, ethics, anecdotes and recipes that will make you hungry.” —Paula Shoyer, author, The Kosher Baker: 160 Dairy-Free Desserts from Traditional to Trendy
Now In Third Printing!
My book, On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao is already in its third printing! To purchase your copy or additional copies of On the Chocolate Trail you may do so from the publisher, Jewish Lights. Bulk rates and signed books are also available there. Thank you to everyone who has bought a copy or more for gifts, teachers, book clubs, adult study and other.
Thanks for such a wonderful weekend with you as our scholar-in-residence. The weekend was fun, informative, and engaging!
Thank you so very much for an informative, entertaining and delicious evening. It’s wonderful ... That we all benefit from your choco-dar talent!
The event was the most successful public event I have had in my time at the Gomez Mill House. Everyone I spoke with enjoyed your presentation and the energy following the program.
I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about our program yesterday. Thank you for lending your expertise, creativity and charm to our event.
It was a delight to have you with us — your presentation is excellent and your research is remarkable. Moreover, I appreciate the kind interaction with my members, and how they responded to your warmth. I am sure they will think differently about every bite of chocolate from now on.
Thank you so much for the wonderful presentation. The participants clearly enjoyed sharing their own stories, hearing your insights and learning about all of the Jewish connections as well as the cultural and religious aspects of chocolate. You are a warm and engaging speaker.
Thank you for your teaching last night. It was delightful, informative, and fun, and we’ve already received some excellent feedback.
You are such a terrific speaker. So comfortable and conversational. It was a treat to listen to you. Everyone had a great time.
Thank you very much for presenting a superb lecture at Beth Tzedec. I am hearing many wonderful comments from the audience, who truly enjoyed your excellent presentation.
Just recently, several participants told me that they started reading your book and are enjoying it. The lecture generated a lot of interest on the topic and I already have a number of requests for the book.
Our students are still talking about your presentation to them! I don't think they'll ever look at a candy bar wrapper and not ask the question, "What's Jewish about this candy bar?" Thanks for helping them learn and ask important questions!
Thank you for taking us on the Chocolate Trail yesterday and enriching us with your stories and passion for Chocolate. The program was a huge success. You connected so well with our religious School students too.
You shared with us a special Rabbinic teaching, may the words of the Torah be sweet. Together we tasted the Torah of our wonderful culture, traditions, Jewish life, and history.
Thanks for helping us to have a great program!! I am thrilled that we needed additional books!
Your program with our students was a home run. I loved how you were able to engage them from the beginning with your informative chocolate bar wrappers!
Thank you so much for your wonderful talk at the Skirball Cultural Center last week! We truly enjoyed having you here to share your knowledge and enthusiasm for chocolate with our audience. They were all highly engaged and appreciative of your presentation.
Thank you for a most delectable and delicious talk!
You and your topic were truly captivating. I have already started the book and I am finding it fascinating!!! My only concern is the cravings that follow!!!
Please know how grateful all of us were for your presence and inspiration. You provided a special evening of learning and noshing for all present.
Thank you so much for being here on Yom Limmud, Everyone loved you… and chocolate!
We had a delicious adventure connecting Jews, religions, history, travel, rituals and recipes to the Magic of Cacao.
You tempted our taste buds and we loved sampling the chocolate treats.
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Jews and Chocolate
The next time you pick up a piece of chocolate, consider that you are partaking in an aspect of Jewish history. There are some surprising Jewish connections with chocolate, including Jews in the early chocolate trade and early Jewish chocolate makers. Jews, Pre-Columbians, Catholics, and Protestants also connect in Jews on the Chocolate Trail through its exploration of chocolate’s religious narratives and rituals. Jews on the Chocolate Trail uniquely melds a popularity of chocolate with a fascination about Judaism. Those interested in Judaism and religion will enjoy this unique approach. In combining age old passions for chocolate and religion, Jews on the Chocolate Trail unwraps delightful new themes.
As we travel my husband, Rabbi Mark Hurvitz, and I explore local chocolate opportunities and culture, two Jews enjoying the trail of chocolate around the world.