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The Story of the Sweet Bread: the Booksmith & the Monastery

The Story of the Sweet Bread: the Booksmith & the Monastery

Brookline, Massachusetts has a lot to love, and one of the things we’re always grateful for is getting to share a home with so many kind, interesting, and thoughtful groups of people. As the Booksmith opened its doors in 1961, a Greek monk was founding the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, a Eastern Orthodox Christian monastic community just down the street.

For decades, the monastery has baked and given away as gifts dozens of loaves of tsoureki (τσουρέκι), a centuries-old traditional sweet bread originating in present-day Turkey, and is well-loved in various cultures throughout Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Caucuses. The staff of the Booksmith was always counted among the monastery’s practice of generosity, and the monks and nuns came by every Christmas to drop off loaves of the delicious bread. It became a yearly joy for the workers: word would spread quickly that the affectionately named “monk bread” was down in the break room, and most everyone would try to find time to sneak down for a slice.

Eventually, in addition to giving it as a gift to members of the community, the Monastery decided to begin selling the bread year-round. In thinking about where else in the area might be interested in selling the bread, Brookline Booksmith emerged as a clear choice. Baked fresh daily, and selling out well before it has a chance to get stale, the bread is now available in our store for purchase. Whether toasted or plain, with jams or butter, the tsoureki really is that good and has a growing fan base.

Check out the recent feature on Boston’s Chronicle Channel 5 WCVB on some of the Boston area’s most fascinating little-known histories, alongside a segment on a famous cemetery that is the resting place for much of the city’s abolitionist community.


or head to Holy Transfiguration Monastery’s website to learn more about their sweet bread, community, and history.

Stop by the Booksmith store to purchase a delicious loaf today!