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Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz


In the summer of 1937, my great-uncle George and his wife, Margaret, together with my grandmother, Toni Prinz, and my father, Ray, boarded a ship for Copenhagen. Great-aunt Selma and her husband, Mor, escorted them to the ship to wave goodbye and at the very last minute “gifted” them with a small box of chocolate produced by MIX Konfect, a local company.

Hidden under the chocolates were gold coins Uncle George had packed in the box in anticipation of the trip. George and Margaret carefully accepted the box with its concealed $10,000. My father, just 12 at the time, had about $3000...

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Close-up of two fair trade chocolate bars

The aroma of chocolate eggs (beitzah), chocolate covered matzah, green-colored chocolate (karpas) a solid chocolate seder plate, several chocolate nut clusters (charoset), and a 100% cacao bar (maror) wafted our friends into our home. Three of the five rabbis at the table had never been to a seder – a chocolate seder that is.

Rabbi Lennard Thal, senior vice president emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), reflected afterwards, “This was a ‘first’ for me and I loved the experience even more than the chocolate (now, that, as a self-professed and proud ‘chocoholic,’ is saying...

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The complex flavor profiles of sumptuous chocolate have finally made it to Hanukkah gelt (traditionally coins given as Hanukkah gifts, but used here to describe foil-wrapped chocolate coins associated with the holiday).

Gelt now tempts our palates with tastier, richer, darker chocolate than ever was available in the past. Author and chocolate maven, Francine Segan’s children sampled the earlier “traditional” Hanukkah chocolate gelt and refused to eat it. They told her to recycle it or leave it on the table for glittery decoration. As Segan explains, “Good chocolate needs to contain...

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Chocolate smooths transitions. As we move from summer to fall – vacation to school, Elul to Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur to Sukkot – we might extract historical wisdom from chocolate.

Yes, many of us eat chocolate to de-stress, especially at times of change. More globally, chocolate assisted Jews, and other persecuted peoples such as Quakers, during societal upheavals.

The very trailhead for our contemporary chocolate passions lies at the crossroads of the age of exploration and the discovery of the New World at the end of the 15th century. The exciting and uncertain journeys...

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If, as one of my friends has taught me, food is love, then chocolate manifests the densest, deepest and sweetest of loves. When we slather our mothers with chocolaty tributes in a few days, we will be stepping onto a chocolate trail pioneered by Jewish mothers before us, notably the 18th century's Rebecca Gomez.

Rebecca, along with her husband, her brother-in-law, her son, and her nephew had an appetite for the chocolate business in New York City. After the death of her husband, Rebecca ran the business and advertised her delectable chocolates in the local papers, "Rebecca Gomez at...

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