A Central Point confectioner has happened upon a sweet idea for helping his temple raise money — kosher candies.

A Central Point confectioner has happened upon a sweet idea for helping his temple raise money — kosher candies.

Peter Croyle of Pete's Gourmet Confections has created a new line of products, Aunt Sadie's Candies, to help Jewish and other organizations raise money during a time when charitable giving is dropping along with employment and the stock market.

"I saw the need for it, when people are losing their jobs and the outlook is grim," said Croyle. "People are able to give less. This is a way for a group of us to make it easier for a temple or church to keep their building fund going and keep the lights on."

Forty percent of the gross is donated to organizations that buy the candies as a fundraiser, according to the Web site www.auntsadiescandies.com. Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland, where Croyle is a member, will sell them for Passover to help raise money for children's classes, building projects and charitable endeavors.

Featuring such goodies as dark chocolate orange peels, dark chocolate coffee beans, ginger with matzah and lavender-flavored marshmallows, Aunt Sadie's Candies will be marketed through the Jewish culture by word-of-mouth and on the Internet, with kids getting prizes for sales accomplishments, said Lee Weisel, the firm's president.

Aunt Sadie's also makes marshmallow Easter eggs, chocolate Easter bunnies and vanilla marshmallow Mother's Day candies, all of them kosher.

Weisel said the idea of Aunt Sadie's was born of necessity. "The temple needed to raise funds for many projects and initiatives it wanted to do for itself and for the community," Weisel said. "They wanted to devise a campaign incorporating the spirit of inclusion, so everyone would take ownership in the effort."

On Friday, Temple Emek Shalom Rabbi Marc Sirinsky held an "eco-koshering" ceremony that called for a deep cleaning of the factory with boiling water, a spiritual deep-cleaning with prayers, and questions to Croyle about his business practices.

In the last decade, rabbis have expanded koshering ceremonies to include purification with regard to the environment and social consciousness to help ensure products don't harm the environment or exploit farm workers or employees, Sirinsky said.

Challenged on his practices before the ceremony, Croyle responded that his workers earned a living wage, got time off for doctor visits and worked four days a week to save fuel.

The ceremony included prayers asking that everyone's chametz, or puffed-up egos, be washed from the premises. Then 10 small pieces of bread representing those egos were hidden to be found by the rabbi and gently dusted away with a feather and burned in a cup.

In his prayers, Sirinsky said the koshering at Passover signifies liberation from the constrictions of the Jews' servitude in Egypt.

The flight from Egypt happened quickly, so bread didn't have time to rise and thereafter unleavened bread was associated with freedom, he said. That metaphor also applies to the freedom of the uninflated ego, he said.

The deep cleansing before koshering symbolizes the search for "inner chametz," which is a search for inner spoilage, Sirinsky said. The ritual cleansing is done with a feather to signify being gentle and "not beating up on yourself" for your faults, he said.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.