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18 May '23

Etrog Farming on the Rise in California

Posted by shmuel haskelewitch in Etrog, sukkos, sukkot
While Israel is the traditional home of etrogim, farmers in California are increasingly getting in on the action. A new generation of growers is experimenting with different varieties and growing techniques, with some even importing seeds from Israel to create the perfect fruit.
One such farmer is David Rosenfeld, who runs an etrog farm in the San Fernando Valley. Rosenfeld has spent years perfecting his growing techniques, using a combination of irrigation systems, pruning techniques, and pest control methods to produce high-quality fruit. He has also experimented with different varieties of etrogim, such as the Moroccan and Yemenite varieties, which have different shapes and textures than the traditional Israeli fruit.
Despite the challenges of growing etrogim in a non-native climate, these farmers are determined to bring a taste of Israel to the United States. Some even host events and workshops to teach others about the history and significance of etrogim during Sukkot. As demand for high-quality etrogim continues to grow around the world, it seems likely that we will see even more farmers getting in on the action.
16 May '23

A Lulav and Etrog Poem

Posted by shmuel haskelewitch in calabria, israel, kotel, Lulav, sukkot
In autumn's embrace, lulav and etrog meet,
Symbols of joy, traditions complete.
Lulav, a branch with leaves of green,
Etrog, a citron, radiant and serene.

United they stand, a sacred pair,
A symbol of unity, a prayer we share.
Lulav, a symbol of the righteous spine,
Etrog, a fragrance that fills the divine.

With grace we wave them, left and right,
Seeking blessings from morning to night.
Lulav's branches, compass of the heart,
Etrog's fragrance, a celestial art.

The lulav's palm, sturdy and tall,
Reminds us to rise, never to fall.
Etrog's golden hue, a symbol of light,
Guiding us through darkness, day or night.

As we gather in joy, young and old,
The lulav and etrog, stories unfold.
Reminders of harvest and ancient tales,
Binding generations with sacred trails.

Lulav and etrog, a timeless connection,
We hold them close, a spiritual reflection.
Through centuries they've graced our hands,
A bridge to our past, where faith expands.

So let us cherish these symbols divine,
The lulav and etrog, a heritage so fine.
May their presence inspire our hearts anew,
With blessings abundant, for me and for you.
11 May '23

Record-Breaking Etrog from Israel Sold for $18,000 in New York Auction

Posted by shmuel haskelewitch in Etrog, sukkos, sukkot
Record-Breaking Etrog from Israel Sold for $18,000 in New York Auction
A rare and unusually large etrog from Israel sold for a record-breaking $18,000 in a New York auction, breaking the previous record of $15,000. The etrog, which weighed over 1.5 pounds and was described as "perfectly symmetrical" and "flawless," was grown by Israeli farmer Avi Kedar and sold to a buyer from the United States.
Etrogim are a special citrus fruit used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, during which Jews around the world gather in temporary outdoor shelters known as sukkot. According to Jewish tradition, the etrog is one of the four species that are held together with a lulav (palm branch) and waved in all directions during the holiday.
Kedar, who has been growing etrogim for over 30 years, said that he was surprised and honored by the high price that his etrog fetched in the auction. "I knew it was a special etrog, but I never imagined it would sell for such a high price," he said.
The buyer, who wished to remain anonymous, said that he was thrilled to have the opportunity to own such a unique and beautiful etrog. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own something truly special," he said. "I can't wait to use it during Sukkot and show it off to my friends and family."
The sale of the record-breaking etrog highlights the value and importance that Jews place on this special fruit during the holiday of Sukkot. It also underscores the skill and expertise of Israeli farmers like Kedar, who have dedicated their lives to growing the highest quality etrogim in the world.
04 May '23

Israel's Etrog Farmers Overcome Shmita Challenge to Meet High Demand for Sukkot

Posted by shmuel haskelewitch in Etrog, Lulav, shmita, sukkos, sukkot
As the holiday of Sukkot approaches, demand for etrogim, the special citrus fruit used during the holiday, is at an all-time high. However, this year poses a unique challenge for Israeli etrog farmers, as it is a Shmita, or Sabbatical year, in which the land must lie fallow and no crops may be harvested.
Despite this challenge, many Israeli etrog farmers have found ways to meet the high demand for etrogim during this year of Shmita. Some have turned to innovative methods such as growing etrogim in greenhouses or on trees that are not subject to the laws of Shmita. Others have worked with rabbis and experts to develop alternative methods of harvesting etrogim during the Sabbatical year.
One farmer, Avi Kedar, has even created a unique system that allows him to harvest etrogim during the Shmita year without violating Jewish law. Kedar's system involves picking only a small portion of each etrog tree, carefully selecting the ripest fruits and leaving the rest to grow and ripen during the following year.
Despite these efforts, some farmers have chosen to take a break from the business during the Shmita year, recognizing the importance of observing Jewish law and caring for the environment.
For those who continue to harvest etrogim during the Shmita year, the demand remains high. As one farmer, Moshe Cohen, explains, "There is a lot of demand from Jews all over the world who want to fulfill the mitzvah (commandment) of holding the etrog and celebrating Sukkot properly."
Despite the challenges posed by the Shmita year, Israeli etrog farmers are determined to meet this demand and provide Jews around the world with the opportunity to fulfill this important commandment during Sukkot. Their efforts demonstrate the resilience and ingenuity of Israeli farmers, as well as the enduring importance of Jewish traditions and observances.
27 Apr '23

Etrogim in a Year of Shmita

Posted by shmuel haskelewitch
The practice of Shmita, or the Sabbatical year, is a unique tradition in Jewish law that requires farmers to let their land lie fallow every seventh year. During this year, farmers must refrain from planting and harvesting crops, and allow the land to rest and rejuvenate.

The laws of Shmita apply not only to crops that grow from the ground, but also to fruit trees, including the etrog tree. This means that during the Shmita year, farmers in Israel are not allowed to harvest etrogim, the special citrus fruit used during the holiday of Sukkot.

This may seem like a significant challenge for those who rely on the etrog trade for their livelihood. However, many farmers in Israel have found ways to navigate the laws of Shmita while still maintaining their businesses.

One approach is to grow etrogim in greenhouses or on trees that are not subject to the laws of Shmita. Some farmers also work with rabbis and experts to develop alternative methods of harvesting etrogim during the Sabbatical year, such as using mechanical harvesters or harvesting only a portion of the fruit from each tree.

Despite these efforts, the laws of Shmita can still pose a significant challenge for etrog farmers in Israel. Some farmers choose to take a break from the business during the Sabbatical year, while others may seek alternative sources of income.

However, many farmers view the observance of Shmita as a meaningful opportunity to connect with their land and their faith. By taking a year to allow the earth to rest, they are fulfilling a fundamental Jewish principle of caring for the environment and preserving the natural world.

Moreover, the observance of Shmita is a powerful reminder of the importance of balance and sustainability in our lives. By taking a break from the constant cycle of production and consumption, we can reflect on our values and priorities, and consider how we can live in greater harmony with the world around us.

In this way, the laws of Shmita are not just a challenge for etrog farmers in Israel, but a source of inspiration and renewal for all of us. Whether we are farmers or city-dwellers, we can learn from this ancient tradition and strive to live more intentionally and in greater harmony with the world around us.