Rachel Neiman
September 15, 2013, Updated September 22, 2013

The lulav, the date palm tree frond, is one of the Four Species used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Bound together with two other Species — hadass (myrtle), aravah (willow) — and held next to the etrog (citron) — it is an essential part of the ceremonial daily blessings made during the week-long holiday.

Photo: Ehud Ratzabi, Petah Tikva, 1972-3. Painting: Child with Lulav by Isidor Kaufmann.

This year, according to Nehemia Rafel, Secretary General of the Religious Kibbutz Movement, 700,000 lulavs were supplied in time for the holiday. In previous years, demand outstripped supply and — in an ironic twist on Jewish history — lulavs were imported from Egypt. This year, thanks to increased production in Israel, there was no need to import from other countries.

Image: Melamed family at the Western Wall, Jerusalem. 1968.

About two-thirds of the 700,000 lulavs for the local market will be provided by Beit Shean Valley kibbutzim. An additional 200,000 will be supplied to Jewish communities in the US.

Lulav sales constitute one-third of the annual turnover for the date palm sector. The price of a lulav can range from NIS 25 to NIS 300 with annual sales for this year estimated at NIS 50 million. Rappel stated, “We are pleased that despite the lack of imports, prices remained stable through increased domestic production.

Photo: Schoolchildren at the Shikimim School, Sderot. 1950s-60s.

In related palm frond news, the Keren Kayemet L’Israel – Jewish National Fund has announced it will be distributing culled palm fronds to the public. Traditionally, branches are used as sukkah (tabernacle) covering and there are serious problems with rogue sukkah-builders snatching thatch and destroying trees.

Starting today, the KKL-JNF has set up distribution centers, inviting the public to come and take while stocks last, and imploring them not to pick tree branches. Click here for locations and directions.

Photos courtesy of Israel Album.org. Isidor Kaufmann’s Child with Lulav; Wikipedia.org.

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