The girls and I went today to the Sukkot Shuk (Feast of Tabernacles Market) outside of the regular shuk, Mahane Yehuda, to purchase lulav and etrog sets for ourselves, our friend Ita and my boyfriend Rafi.
Growing up, I loved Sukkot. I loved the one day, during Hebrew School, when we would all go to the Sukkah (temporary hut with palm fronds for a roof), cover it with our decorations -- paper chains, pictures of fruit, plastic fake fruit, streamers and glitter -- and then we'd have dinner there. Hot dogs, chips, and apples were always the menu. To this day, I have a love of hot dogs that stems from Sukkot at Temple Beth Am in Margate, FL. Until very recently, in fact, I associated hot dogs 100% with my childhood synagogue and would only eat them once a year, on Sukkot. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe the reason I like glitter and art projects (like AEPhi's clue week) is because of the sukkot decorations. Wow, pretty much everything I do is 100% Jewy.
Anyway, I still love sukkot. Another tradition at my shul is that they would purchase about 8 sets of lulav (a bound palm frond with myrtle and willow branches) and etrog (a yellow citron with a special stem-like tip called a "pitom.") for the congregation to use during the holiday (there's a prescribed way to shake the lulav and etrog (really)). I never got my own set, never felt like I needed it. In NY, I did feel a little left out, but always managed to share with my friends. But when you live about 10 minutes from the sukkot shuk, you go to get your own set. Because we got 5 sets, we got a crazy deal: 5 sets for 400 sheqels, and a little extra for the carrying cases. $10 a person! (Kudos to Rachel, read her blog entry on the Sukkot shuk here.)
But buying your lulav in the Sukkot Shuk isn't like getting the pretty, complete set in NYC. Oh, no. You pick out your individual myrtle branches, your preferred willows, your perfect palm frond. You handle and sniff a table of etrogim (plural for etrog) until you find the right one. It's a lot like JDate for religious items...the dati men in the shuk (we were the only three women I saw in the place, and we were told not to try the most religious neighborhood because women aren't allowed in the store there.) were inspecting every single myrtle leaf. I guess the holiest of myrtle branches must be picked from the rough, but I was happy with anything that was cut from the tree. I'm not picky...a lulav, for example, is not as important as a backpack, or a boyfriend.
Welcome to the Sukkot Shuk!
Nice shot of a table of Etrogim.
Ita teaches Rachel and me how to tie our lulavim correctly. Thanks, Ita!
Speaking of picking out a boyfriend, I went to Tel Aviv today to pick myself up a boyfriend. There was quite a selection at the Arrivals entrance, but I found myself a nice rabbinical student. Not too tall, not too religious, not too secular, this one's got red hair, is ridiculously smart and has an amazing smile.
Rafi eats the Shwarma he promised to enjoy for a family friend, who loves Adir Falafel/Schwarma on Emek Refaim. Rafi says, "Hi, Art!"
And best of all, like the perfect lulav, he arrived just in time...and just for me.
(I know that was cheesy. Try to clean up your barf and let me be cutesy for once. I'll go back to being snarky soon. I promise.)