If you love chocolate, you will want to know about the Jewish connection to the sweet and delicious treat. For centuries, Jews have been involved with the trade of cocoa and chocolate. They helped spread the knowledge and make the world more aware of the delicious treat. In fact, many of the recipes in the new cookbook, Jewish Chocolate Cookbook, are from noted Jewish bakers.
The history of chocolate and the Jewish people is not only fascinating, it’s also incredibly surprising. From the emperor of the Aztecs to the Mexican crypto-Jews, to the Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews who are still involved with the trade today, the chocolate-and-Jew connection goes back centuries.
Many Jewish emigrants in the 20th century began working in chocolate companies as producers and bakers. While some were employed by bakeries that were set up to help create jobs for the incoming immigrants, others had more permanent opportunities in the chocolate business. There were even a few Jewish chocolatiers in New York City, such as Stephen Klein, who founded Barton’s in 1938.
One of the oldest chocolate-making traditions was in the Bayonne area of France, where Jews were able to continue their business of making chocolate despite the prohibitions on chocolate sale on Sundays and other Christian holidays. Bayonne eventually became an important center of French chocolate-making. Although the city of Bayonne is located near the Spanish border, it is now known for its rich and extensive chocolate history.
The city’s Jewish residents were eventually able to open their chocolate shop on a larger scale. Today, chocolate is one of the most popular romantic foods. During the end of the Yom Kippur fast, Jews are accustomed to eating chocolate with their meals. It is especially sweet around the holiday of Chanukah, when the holiday gelt is served. Gelt chocolate coins were made by European Jews in the 18th and 19th century.
Despite the prohibitions, the Bayonne Jewish community continued to make chocolate and other treats, often using secret techniques. By the mid-17th century, Bayonne was an important place for the chocolate business in France. Throughout the early 17th century, the city’s Jews were shipping cacao beans from South America to Europe. At that time, they pretended to be Christian, but they were actually Jewish.
Eventually, the Bayonne Jewish community grew so savvy at making chocolate that they won the right to continue their chocolate-making business. This was a victory for the Jews, because the non-Jewish chocolate makers tried to push them out of the business.
Another example of the surprising connection between Jews and chocolate is the use of chocolate by Jews during the Holocaust. After World War II, survivors of the Holocaust came to see chocolate as a symbol of hope. That hope became a source of inspiration for surviving refugees who had fled war-torn Europe.
Whether you are a lover of chocolate or just interested in the history of the sweet treat, this cookbook will provide you with all the information you need to explore the fascinating history of chocolate in the Jewish community. Along with chocolate-inspired recipes, the book provides a consumer guide on ethically produced chocolate.