Minding Our Chocolate

by D. Prinz on May 29, 2015

P1050924How 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 On the Chocolate Trail several people have shared their approaches to using chocolate for meditation and mindfulness. Here are a few:
From Michelle Lalouche Kadden:
As a psychologist, I do a mindfulness eating exercise with a piece of chocolate. This can be useful for people with eating disorders or for anyone who wants to increase mindfulness. In a relaxed and slow pace, take one morsel of chocolate and slowly unwrap it, smell it first, then take a tiny piece into your mouth and allow it to melt on your tongue. Become aware of feelings that arise, or sensations, thoughts memories, even fears. Continue to slowly and mindfully become aware of your senses as you consume a piece of chocolate paying attention to all its qualities. It is helpful to talk about the experience after and notice whatever arises from it. This is a good exercise in a group as well.

Ellen Silverstein Levitt mentions:
I used foil wrapped candies with my ESL students when they were learning about senses. First, they looked at the wrapped candy, then they slowly unwrapped it and looked at it. Then, they smelled it, touched it and finally were able to eat it. Probably taught them some patience as well – all of life isn’t instant gratification!
Michael Shefrin writes:
Encourage your participant to breathe, get comfy in the chair, seek stillness, come to where they are.
Place in front of them a wrapped piece of chocolate (I love doing this with individually wrapped [pieces] with foil !! Take a moment to really look at the package, notice the colors, the ingredients, logos, size, the weight, pick it up  – engage all senses (except taste).
When ready, open slowly, hear it, smell, notice the change when the chocolate enters the air, where did it come from, who brought it to you, is there some significance that needs to be accompanying this exploration?
A Bracha/blessing would occur here if someone so chose to …
Slowly put in mouth, noticing each bite, does it stick in your teeth, is it melty, other elements & tastes, what are the sounds in your head, what are the sounds that someone else might hear, chew slowly, dissolve it on the roof of the mouth, feel the impact on individual teeth, swirl the tongue around in the gooey goodness …All senses should be engaged, close eyes, concentrate on the squishing in the mouth, don’t be in a rush to finish it …
When there is no more tangible chocolate, stop and continue to sit for a minute afterwards to notice the aftertaste, explore the surroundings, what do you do with the wrapper, are your fingers dirty, was there someone else in the room that joined you, what is their facial expression, etc ..
When ready … thank the One who brings forth Chocolate !!!

The manager of a fancy French chocolate store in Manhattan confessed:
She confessed that she has a metaphysical response to eating an intense 99% French chocolate just before she studies from the mystical text known as the Zohar.

Please feel free to share how minding your chocolate works for you.



Barton's kisses, Passover
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 and pregnant wife behind, spent five months in Belgium, ultimately able to reach the US. Within months he brought his young family to New York, later to be joined by his five brothers and two sisters. From the small New York apartment that he shared with ten family members, he concocted chocolates catering to the varied tastes of the local ethnic neighborhoods. Relatives sold the sweets from pushcarts. Commenting on his product, Klein knew which chocolates to blend and how to control taste. As he put it, “All the pieces should look good—no chazerei  [junk]….”

As he molded his successful American company, Bartons Bonbonniere, it in turn aided other World War II refugees. Bartons Brooklyn’s headquarters housed an office of immigration for assisting with the technical details of bringing over displaced Jews. His company hired many of those approximately fifteen hundred individuals.. While the payroll included Orthodox Jews, it was a very pluralistic, multi-ethnic work line. No strikes disrupted the flow of chocolate and there were no complaints about closing on Saturdays. Employees were allowed to eat as much chocolate as they wanted. Klein furthered the work of the American Orthodox relief agency, Vaad Hatzala, originally established to rescue rabbis and yeshivah students. It eventually expanded to assist all Jews during World War II. The Vaad sent packages of religious articles, food, clothing, household goods, and Bartons chocolate through Tangier to Nazi-occupied countries.

Barton inside front cover
Klein educated his chocolate adoring public by packing games and Jewish holiday stories into his chocolate boxes. Bartons also initiated kosher-for-Passover lines which included items like Matzah Balls, chocolate covered coconut or marzipan. Even the seasonal Santa Clauses and Easter eggs were kosher. Though the Klein family sold this charitable immigrant start-up in 1978, Passover Kisses and other Kosher for Passover Bartons products can adorn your menu again this year.


Ten Teaspoons of Sugar in My Chocolate?

February 26, 2015

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 […]

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Adventures On the Chocolate Trail: Atlanta, Portland, Seattle

January 31, 2015

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 […]

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It’s Chocolate Season

November 30, 2014

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 […]

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Chocolate Signals

September 12, 2014

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 […]

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Can’t Live Without Chocolate?

August 22, 2014

  It seems a given that many of us depend on chocolate. Everywhere I speak about On the Chocolate Trail (Jewish Lights), people confess: “I can’t live without it.” And they want reassurance that the popular headlines about chocolate’s health advantages are true. Whether my body temperature slowly melts a mouthful, or, I am chomping […]

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Smiley Chocolate

June 13, 2014

We hit the mother lode. This chocolate factory came to us from Columbia, unlike the others we were fortunate to trek to in Belgium, England, France, Israel, Mexico, Spain, and Switzerland. To be precise to the David Zwirner gallery near the High Line in Chelsea. Oscar Murillo’s performance art installation, A Mercantile Novel, mashes up […]

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Saluting Military Chocolate

May 26, 2014

  Memorial Day recalls the tangible and serious sacrifices made by members of the US military. Chocolate has played a part in that here, as well as in Israel and Britain. When I came across these stories as I was researching On the Chocolate Trail, I was surprised at how important chocolate was for both […]

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Think Chocolate in Preparation for Passover’s Discussions and Eating

April 12, 2014

Several publications picked up my pieces about chocolate and Passover recently — Huffington Post, Jewish Journal and Jewish Telegraphic Agency — and I share them here, along with A Haggadah for a Socially Responsible Chocolate Seder and related rabbinic texts from responsa literature: A Haggadah for a Socially Responsible Chocolate Seder (free download!) This Haggadah […]

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