Lessons of the Lulav: Zaide Reuven and the Lulav Shortage of 5766

Every year, towards the end of Succot, I begin to clean up my garage. Despite my attempts to keep some semblance of order, my garage somehow manages to accumulate boxes. Box bottoms without tops. Box tops without bottoms. Also foam packing. Lots of it. And those strips that peel away from the sticky parts of FEDEX boxes. They get everywhere. And leaves. Palm leaves. They also get everywhere.

Last year (5765) as I reunite the seasonal center of operations for Zaide Reuven’s Esrog Farm with its more regular tenant, my motor vehicle, I have in my hand the last box. A long beaten up and perforated cardboard box about four feet long, ten inches wide and six inches tall. And as I contemplate the disposition of this box, I think about its origin. It is an Egyptian box. It came from Egypt. And in it were lulavs. Lulavim. Unopened fronds from the center of the palm tree. And I wonder. Continue reading “Lessons of the Lulav: Zaide Reuven and the Lulav Shortage of 5766”

The Lulav Crisis of 5766

Zaide Reuven’s Esrog Farm interviewed in Florida press on the lulav crisis of 5766.

ST. PETERSBURG – It has always been Louisa Benjamin’s favorite holiday, the eight days that follow soon after Yom Kippur, when Jews gather in temporary outdoor shelters to celebrate the fall harvest and commemorate the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness to the Holy Land.

Sukkot, the festival of thanksgiving, began Monday at sundown. For the second year in a row, the Largo artist, her husband and two young children put up a three-sided shelter in their back yard and festooned it with paper chains, fake fruit, gourds, shells, pictures, and palm and banana leaves. Throughout the holiday, the Benjamins, friends and family will gather under the sukkah for festive meals.

Benjamin said she wants to carry on the traditions with which she grew up. The family built a bigger sukkah this year, 8 by 16 feet.

“I wanted to be able to seat more people,” Benjamin said. “I grew up in Atlanta and growing up, I would always go to my teacher’s home and other friends’ and families’ homes to celebrate.”

It’s a religious obligation to “dwell” in the three-sided outdoor shelter during Sukkot. Another requires the recitation of blessings with four species of plants, which together make up the lulav and etrog. A lulav is made up of palm, willow and myrtle branches. The etrog is a citrus fruit native to Israel. Continue reading “The Lulav Crisis of 5766”