Four cups of chocolate liqueur

Tracie Bernstein of Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley, Pa., leads a chocolate seder on March 26. Enjoying the feast is congregant Suzanne Comer. (Lisa Hostein)

Tracie Bernstein of Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley, Pa., leads a chocolate seder on March 26. Enjoying the feast is congregant Suzanne Comer. (Lisa Hostein)

PENN VALLEY, Pa., April 4 (JTA) – Four cups of Godiva Chocolate Liqueur and Nesquik instead of wine; bittersweet chocolate morsels instead of maror; chocolate-dipped strawberries instead of parsley. These are the symbols — and flavors — of a chocolate seder, a relatively new and little-known twist on the ancient Jewish tradition. Some 40 women at Beth Am Israel, a Conservative congregation in this Philadelphia-area suburb, gathered recently to escape the drudgeries of pre-Passover cleaning and engage in a “great evening of ladies, leisure, laughter, learning and chocolate,” in the words of Tracie Bernstein, who organized the event. Some student groups have conducted chocolate seders around the country, but the idea is not widespread. Bernstein, the wife of Rabbi Michael Bernstein, the spiritual leader of Beth Am Israel, says she first heard of a chocolate seder as a graduate student some 10 years ago. She adapted some versions she found online and composed her own Haggadah for the seder. Among the creative adaptations of the delectable event: • One of the four questions challenges the use of chocolate fondue; • A simple child who liked chocolate but did not know why is told, “God brought us out of Egypt so we could be free to eat any kind of chocolate we want;” and • Ten plagues that include cavities, fat and overindulgence along with the usual blood, frogs and lice.

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