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Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz


Albert Einstein's chocolate cup

Jewish refugee and immigrant stories highlight chocolate as a migrant food in “Semi[te] Sweet: On Jews and Chocolate” currently on display at Temple Emanu-El’s Herbert and Eileen Bernard Museum of Judaica in New York City. Now in its 20th year, the mission of the Bernard Museum is to examine and engage with the intersections of Jewish history, culture, and identity.

The exhibit invites visitors to partake in this first-ever visual journey into the mysteries, opportunities, and resilience of the Jewish chocolate story. It focuses on the surprising chocolate businesses and skills of...

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A child's hands, palms up, sticky with chocolate

Our daughter-in-law gave birth to a son, our first grandchild. A couple of months later, On the Chocolate Trail was published, my first book. Each whispers of mortality and immortality. At this High Holiday season of remembrance, I muse about this confluence of baby and book. I am not surprised by the feelings of awe related to the birth, but I have been amazed by what the book has meant.

The book idea found me serendipitously. At 55. On the Chocolate Trail was published seven years later. I had mooned over book possibilities – good ideas and not so, off and on. But there had been...

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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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