Waving Plants and Lemons on 14th Street

800px-EtrogCFellow: Are you Jewish?

Chris: No, sorry.

Fellow: Okay – thanks.

Chris (jovially): Does it matter if I’m not?

Fellow: Maybe.

All the way along 14th Street, Manhattan on Wednesday I was asked whether I was Jewish by polite well-dressed Jewish fellows each carrying a plant and what looked like a lemon. I did ask what this was about but they were not keen to tell me – I guess they get a lot of hassle on the street.

The following day my taxi driver to JFK airport, who was Jewish, could not explain it because he did not know the words in English. (We did however have an interesting conversation on diet. I was mentioning how outside of New York it was difficult to get precisely what one wanted, particularly on the Slow Carb Diet. For obvious reasons, he had been having similar problems.)

Forgive my ignorance on this – it is the first time I’ve seen the plant and the citrus fruit. It is the Jewish festival of Sukkat which in 2012 starts on 1st October. One of the traditions during this festival is waving the lulav and etrog. The lulav is made of several twigs and the etrog is a citrus fruit similar to a lemon. I now realise that I was being asked to participate in this tradition.

Picture from Wikipedia – CC license. Picture by Gilabrand.

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