Monday, October 13, 2008

The Four Species Market in Jerusalem

Happy Sukkot! Tonight we start celebrating the holiday of Sukkot, known in English at the Festival of Booths or Tabernacles. We can talk about the meanings in the coming days because the festivities go on until October 22.
But what I am excited to tell you about first is that today I saw for the first time in my life the Shuk Arba'at HaMinim! This special market opens for only a few days every year so that Jews can buy the Four Kinds (or Four Species) needed to perform the mitsvah of "taking [and shaking] the lulav."
The four are branches of willow, myrtle, and palm, plus the fruit citron.
So I scouted out the big tent from the outside, like the other photographer was doing.
But then, who wants to shoot through fences?
There were no women inside.
Would they let me in, a female, a non-religious one, wearing jeans, holding a camera yet??
Applying the Rebbe's advice from yesterday's post, I stopped thinking so much and decided to "just go over." The two entrance lines had security guards who could have examined my bag or wanded me, could have but did not.
I was in! In that other world of Orthodox and Haredi men. And wonder of wonders, they were so engrossed in examining every minute detail of the Four Species that no one even noticed my camera! What a rare opportunity.
So here the lulav (Hebrew for palm frond) is being checked to see if it is perfect.
Same for the etrog (citron fruit).
How do you like the man multi-tasking with the phone thingy in his ear? :)
The wonderful Shuk of the Four Kinds is a normal and exciting part of growing up for these religious boys. Come to think about it . . . I did some growing up there today too.


Katney said...

I am eager for the next installment. Your insight into faithful practices of your people--and others--is always wonderful.

kjpweb said...

Wonderful. Watch out for next Skywatch Friday's Announcement.
There's a new Meme coming - which seems to be made for you. (Or the other way around! ;)
Cheers, Klaus

Hilda said...

Oh wow, I am so glad they let you in. What a wonderful educational opportunity — both for you and for us. Thank you for the peek.

USelaine said...

This is a marvelous series of photos, Dina. I'm so glad you plunged in - especially finding that there were no adverse consequences!

Kris said...

It must be interesting, the daily clash between such orthodoxy and secularism. There's nothing at all like it here in Hobart.

Ineke said...

Great post!

Webradio said...

Hello Dina !

I discover Your "coutumes" each day... Your explains are nice for me, and easy to understand.. Thank You for this...

See You later.

Dick said...

Interesting, lucky for you they let you in. Thanks for sharing.

kaybee said...

Fascinating, Dina! I am learning so much from you. What a rare opportunity you had -- so glad you took courage in hand. It's a lesson for us the proverb says, "He (she?)who hesitates is lost!"

Petrea said...

Dina, this is every bit as exotic as Sara N's posts about the Mosques of Mashhad. A peek into a culture I rarely see! We do have something akin to this in Los Angeles, as I'm sure you know, but I'm not privy to it. Thanks for a fascinating post.

Suzanne said...

I LOVE THIS POST - like I was there with you! (wish I was)

Reader Wil said...

Wow you are brave!! I wouldn't go there for the world, however interesting it might be!

Catherine said...

Didn't know about this tradition.
Gald you could enter the 'sacred market'. Sometimes, I'm so shy about taking pictures of people. But it's so interesting to read about them.
Thanks again to share with us.


wow, wow, wow, it sounds like you entered a secret ceremony, open only to men, a bit like the greek Mt Athos monastery, where it is said that not even a female animal has entered.
by the way, those lemons - they look so different and possibly even aromatic. are they something different to lemons (they look a little like pergamon fruit to me)

Dina said...

Wait Kiwi, wait! Women are not forbidden in the Shuk Arba Haminim!
I may have worded it a bit ambiguously. . . so, as you say, "it sounds like. . ."
Picking out the best four species to buy is men's work. Anyway, the women were probably all at home cooking the first meal to be eaten in the sukkah Monday night.

You have me LOL LOL comparing it to Mt. Athos. How I would love to ascend holy Mt. Athos! Hey, you give me an idea. Do you think I could do the Barbara Streisand "Yentl" thing and sneak in?

What is pergamon fruit??
Yeah, I should post about the required fruit: it is a citron, known in Hebrew by its Aramaic name, etrog. They have a nice smell, yes.
After their ten days of ritual use they can be used as regular fruit.
I have never seen the inside of one. But there are recipes for etrog jam and schnapps here:
For a history of etrog growing and trading, including the Greek connection, see

Dina said...

Thank you, Katney. I'm glad you and I both like to learn. :)

Shalom Klaus. What is it, what is it?? I can hardly wait!

Thanks Hilda. But just today the Jerusalem Post told of Sukkot festivities where women were banned:

Shimmy Mom said...

Wonderful posts. I never leave here without learning something. I am amazed, but so pleased that you got in and were able to get such wonderful shots.

Anonymous said...

Kol Hakavod Dina! (Well done) I wouldn't have dared to go in there and am so pleased that you did and shared these lovely photos with us.

As usual I am thrilled to read your lovely blog.

Kfar Sabarit.