December 12, 2018

Exhibit Opened! “Semi[te] Sweet: On Jews and Chocolate”

A tin of Barton’s Almond Kisses. A stretchy yellow pouch of Elite Gelt. Imagine the intersection of Jewish life and chocolate, and those are the markers that likely come to mind. Less likely, but no less pivotal is the liquid delicacy that Inquisition-era Sephardi Jews introduced to France. The exhibit “Semi[te] Sweet: On Jews and Chocolate” features tantalizing historical and contemporary archival materials, decorative arts and bibliographic materials that celebrate these contributions of Jews to the business of chocolate.

Bernard Museum Curator, Warren Klein, notes: “Highlights of the exhibited objects include: Albert Einstein’s childhood chocolate cup; business documents of Newport, Rhode Island chocolate trader, Aaron Lopez; and, a 19th century history of Bayonne, France, which identifies Sephardi Jews as the first chocolate makers in France.”

Chocolate migrated with Sephardi Jews in the early days of European contact with the New World food. As Spanish and Portuguese Jews sought refuge from the broad-reaching perils of the Inquisition, some packed with them new chocolate tastes, techniques, and opportunities, thereby supplying and extending chocolate to larger markets.

I was surprised, when researching my book, On the Chocolate Trail (2nd Edition, Jewish Lights, 2017), that Jews have had an appetite for chocolate, from generation to generation. These turn out to be stories of resilience and resourcefulness.This first-ever exhibition about Jews and chocolate is based on the best-selling book.

Later, twentieth century Jewish emigrants transferred their businesses for eating chocolate from one location to another. The background of Israel’s Elite Chocolate and the iconic chocolate company, Barton’s Bonbonniere, is also featured. Jews have had an appetite for chocolate from generation to generation.

The exhibit runs through February 25, 2018. Free admission; groups tours may be arranged by calling (212) 744-1400, ext. 313.
The Herbert & Eileen Bernard Museum of Judaica
Temple Emanu-El
One East 65th Street
New York, NY 10065
October 23, 2017 – February 25, 2018

Exhibit Souvenirs