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New Origin of the Species

by Yori Yanover

Every Sukkot Eve, the religious-Jewish men and boys of the Lower East Side (OK, some religious-Jewish women and girls too) purchase an assortment of the Four Species, to be blessed and shaken vigorously as part of the Sukkot (Holiday of Booths) ritual.

The bunch includes one palm branch, three myrtle branches, two willow branches, and one etrog, which is a citrus fruit resembling a lemon.

Traditionally, the sidewalk along Essex Street filled up with vendors the morning after Yom Kippur, and from Grand to East Broadway all you saw were heaps of etrogim and piles of palms. Nowadays business is weaker on Essex.

Nowadays, most local folks do their business with Rabbi Berel Feinstein, who offers his lovely merchandise in a synagogue on Henry Street, between Allen and Clinton. I got mine there last night – $50 for a very nice etrog and a solid palm. Happy!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

pardon my ignorance, but i've always wondered why etrogs cost so much. my husband and i joke that they are really "chinese lemons" and can probably be found in chinatown sold for 10 cents!

10/09/2006 10:45 AM  
Blogger Yori Yanover said...

They cost this much because of the demanding physical requirements placed on the growers. Some blemishes render the fruit unacceptable for ritual use. I doubt very much you'll find them in Chinatown, as they're grown almost exclusively in Israel and Morocco.

10/09/2006 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah, very interesting.

today i was accosted by a young lubavitch boy on grand and essex and i actually got to hold one of the elusive citrons (and palms) and do the whole prayer/shake. happy succot!

10/09/2006 8:24 PM  

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