Book Optioned: Museum Exhibit
Excerpted from my remarks at Opening Night at Temple Emanu-El, NYC, October 20, 2017:
Some people have books optioned for movies. I am so delighted that my book, On the Chocolate Trail (2nd Edition, 2017) has become a museum exhibit…
Thank you, Warren Klein, for your professionalism, creativity and collegiality in creating Semite Sweet, which displays some objects for the first time ever, much less together.
I appreciate that Gady Levy reached out to me with his vision about the uniqueness of an exhibit about Jews and chocolate.
I am grateful to Rabbi Davidson, the clergy team, and congregational leadership for the opportunity to bring the Jewish chocolate trail to this bimah.
… As you meander your own sweet trail through the exhibit I invite you to consider a few themes:
1. Chocolate provided business and trade opportunities to refugees in their relocations. Chocolate is a migrant food. Jews, initially Sephardim, later Ashkenazim, were sustained by it.
2. Second, while some historians of Jewish life identify the lachrymose tragedies of our past, these are stories of resilience and resourcefulness.
3. Third, chocolate drinking preceded eating chocolate which develops in the 19th century after the Industrial revolution.
I learned through research for the book about the Sephardi immigrants to the British Colonies in North America who were in the chocolate business: Aaron Lopez in Newport, RI and the Gomez family in NYC. These were people who returned to their Jewish identities by escaping Spain and Portugal.
Aaron Lopez immigrated to Newport from Portugal prior to the Revolution. Vastly successful trader and merchant, Lopez supported Touro Synagogue. Documents in the exhibit show that he distributed tzedakah to indigent Jews in the form of balls of chocolate. We also see in his papers the first known record connecting Pesah to chocolate.
In New York City, in the same period, five individuals in two generations of Gomez family traded, retailed, wholesaled and consumed chocolate. Patriarch Moses Luis Gomez escaped Spain as small child, possibly via Bayonne, France, ultimately to New York City. Gomez family members became founders of the Spanish Portuguese Synagogue, translators at the State Assembly, and donors to the rebuilding of Trinity Church’s steeple after a fire. Rebecca Gomez was one of few women selling chocolate and the only woman manufacturing it at Anne and Nassau. Her husband Mordecay’s Estate Inventory lists a chocolate pot, chocolate cups and cacao beans imported from Surinam.
These two Sephardi families, connected through familial and mercantile ties, not only supported themselves through their chocolate businesses and consumption of chocolate, they were also very engaged with their Jewish and non-Jewish communities.
Announcing Second Edition: On the Chocolate Trail
Media attention, popular culture, audience questions, growing consumer awareness, and changes in the chocolate world sparked the new material in this second edition of On the Chocolate Trail. I am happy to offer up a totally new chapter, “Gods in My Chocolate,” which explores twenty-first-century controversies about deities formed from chocolate. While chocolate generallyRead more ›
No End to Chocolate Exhibits Part III: Visits #3, 4 & 5
A stunning number of exhibits about chocolate, mostly on the East Coast, captured our attention in the last six months. Mark and I had the opportunity to visit three very different exhibits, what I call #3, 4 & 5. I reviewed the exhibit (#1) at Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), where I was honored toRead more ›
Of Chocolate Exhibits There is No End: Part 2
Just as the Detroit Institute of Arts closes its wonderful Bitter|Sweet display of chocolate, coffee and tea, no need to despair. New York offers three additional exhibits. Setting aside the wondrous and elegant chocolate shops, at least three local museums currently exhibit artifacts related to the history and consumption of chocolate. For now, the newRead more ›
Chocolate, Coffee, Tea and Me
Thank you to the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit for the invitation to speak at their event Chocolate, Coffee, and Judaism created in conjunction with the Detroit Institute of Arts exhibit “Bitter|Sweet: Coffee, Tea & Chocolate.” Not only did I have the opportunity to meet a curious audience, I also presented with Professor Howard LupovitchRead more ›
Some Previous Posts
(in alphabetical order)
- Adventures On the Chocolate Trail: Atlanta, Portland, Seattle
- Anschluss Launches Bartons Passover Favorites 77 Years Ago
- Bat Mitzvah Wants Fair Trade Israeli Chocolate
- Bringing Buckeye Candy to Experts
- Chocolate Expo
- Chocolate Made My Lunch: Nashville
- Chocolate Signals
- Chocolate, Coffee, Tea and Me
- Election 2016: Winning Fudge Brigadeiros
- Fathering Chocolate
- Hunting for Chocolate: Fancy Food Show, NYC, 2016
- It's Chocolate Season
- Labor Day in our Chocolate
- Local Chocolate in the South
- Minding Our Chocolate
- On the Chocolate Trail in Brooklyn
- Seriously Tasting Chocolate
- Super Food Chocolate for Super Bowl Sunday: Three Recipes
- Ten Teaspoons of Sugar in My Chocolate?
- That Time Jews Smuggled Chocolate to France — and a Recipe for Basque Chocolate Cake