November 18, 2018

Chocolate Smooths Transitions into High Holydays

Chocolate smooths transitions. As we move from summer to fall, vacation to school, Elul to Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur we might extract historical Jewish wisdoms 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 fifteenth century. The exciting and uncertain journeys to unknown territories led to the first European contact with chocolate via Columbus and his many converso crew members on his fourth voyage.

This “discovery” of chocolate offered Jews personal sustenance as well as business opportunities in times of anxiety. Expelled from Spain, some Jews hid their Jewish practice lest they be caught and condemned by the Inquisition and others practiced Christianity as newcomers. They maintained kinship and mercantile ties, some through chocolate. Through shifts in science, seafaring, and politics some of them supported themselves from this New World product while taking advantage of new transportation systems and new markets. Jews became chocolate specialists in New York, Newport, Amsterdam, Oxford (England), Bayonne (France) and elsewhere. They retailed, manufactured and traded chocolate, seizing opportunities and taking risks. As they coped with multiple border crossings, real and metaphorical, chocolate eased their way.

That resilience suggests a way forward for us as well, especially at the threshold of 5776. 

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies*

While chocolate was a beverage in the earliest days of its consumption in Europe and America, this meringue recipe offers circular cookies for the cycle of the Jewish year and for at least one family, a multi-generational bond.

3 egg whites
pinch salt
1 cup sugar
16 ounces of chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 275º. Line baking sheet with foil. Beat egg whites with salt until stiff. Gradually beat in the sugar. Stir in chocolate chips, cocoa and vanilla. Drop batter by walnut sized spoonfuls onto sheets. Bake 30 minutes. Transfer entire foil sheet to rack and allow cookies to cool. Store in airtight container.

*Thank you to Toby Spitz for sharing this recipe.

Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz lectures about chocolate and Jews around the world. Her book, “>Jewish Lights, is in its third printing. The book is used in adult study, classroom settings, book clubs and chocolate tastings.
Free download “>discussion guides.
Also, registration is now open for an