April 3 Leonard Wolinsky Lecture: Learn how chocolate nurtured Jews facing upheaval

The Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies presents the 2022 Leonard Wolinsky Lectures on Jewish Life and Education – “Sweet Jews” on Sunday, April 3 at 4 p.m. EDT.

The event showcases the interaction between historical research and popular knowledge in the field of Jewish studies in general and in the popular topic of food science and history in particular.

A poster advertising the Sweet Jews lecture

Rabbi Deborah Prinz will deliver a talk about the “Resilience of Jews Through Chocolate.” Participants will learn how chocolate nurtured Jews facing upheaval in earlier generations and explore the surprising Jewish historical connections to chocolate in this gastronomic adventure. Event participants will also hear author and candy historian Susan Benjamin talk about “The Jewish Sugar Trail: From Ancient Israel to Penny Candy Stores.”

Jews in the diaspora have shaped food history in remarkable and often unexplored ways, especially where candy and confections are concerned. The talk will walk through the ages from Biblical citations of the spice trade to the immense role of Jews in shaping sugar production during the Inquisition. From there, the discussion will explore modern times and the role of Jews in creating such contemporary staples as the Tootsie Roll, Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy, Peeps and Hot Tamales.

Prinz is the author of On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao as well as the forthcoming books The Boston Chocolate Party and The Trail of Jewish Celebratory Breads. On the Chocolate Trail has formed the basis for a museum exhibit, “Semi[te] Sweet: On Jews and Chocolate” at the Bernard Museum of Temple Emanu-El, New York City, which Prinz co-curated. The Rabbi Emerita of Temple Adat Shalom, San Diego County, California, was its senior rabbi for close to 20 years. Prior to that she was, for seven years, was the rabbi of a synagogue in Bergen County, New Jersey, and also the assistant rabbi of Central Synagogue in Manhattan.

Benjamin has researched communications and the history of culture for almost 40 years. The author of 10 books, she was a journalist, college professor and communications strategist for Fortune 500s and other large organizations, including a Clinton and later George W. Bush White House initiative. A lifelong entrepreneur, Benjamin now devotes her attention to researching the history of sugars and sweets. She is also founder of True Treats Historic Candy, based in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, the only research-based candy company. Her 10th book, Sweet as Sin: The Unwrapped Story of How Candy Became America’s Favorite Pleasure (Prometheus, 2016) made the Smithsonian’s Best of Books about Food for 2016.

To register for the lecture on the event webpage.