How to Buy a Lulav and Etrog

What to look for, how to care for it and uses after Sukkot

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Virtually nothing can be done with the myrtle and willow. Until it dries up the myrtle can be used for besamim, spices, during Havdalah. The lulav can be:

1. Used for decoration. It has a certain slim elegance and graceful dignity to it.

2. Saved and waved on Hanukkah (see 2 Maccabees 10:5-8).

3. Saved and used in place of a feather for searching out the hametz [leavened items] before Pesach. Then burn it with the hametz.

The etrog has a number of wonderful uses after its need during the holiday is exhausted:

1. Collect etrogim from friends and make etrog marmalade: Slice etrog into thin cross-sections. Place in a pot or bowl of water for four days or so. Change the water every day. This serves to take out some of the abundant bitterness and acidity of the etrog. For the curious, try tasting a bit of the water on the second or third day. After this process, proceed with any marmalade, jelly, or preserves recipe. You may have to add oranges for volume. Even if the etrog is but a small part of the whole, it is worth the effort.

2. Collect etrogim from friends and make etrog wine.

3. Stick a lot of whole cloves into the etrog. Cover totally with powdered cinnamon and let dry for a few weeks. You will then have a wonderful spice essence. Use it for Havdalah. Let it cast its fragrance in a closet. Give it to a friend.

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Rabbi Michael Strassfeld

Michael Strassfeld is the rabbi of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Manhattan, co-author of The First Jewish Catalog, The Second Jewish Catalog, A Night of Questions: A Passover Haggadah, and author of The Jewish Holidays: A Guide and Commentary.

Sharon M. Strassfeld is co-author of the Jewish Catalog series.

Richard Siegel

Richard Siegel is the Interim Director of the School of Jewish Communal Service at HUC-JIR. He worked for 28 years at the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, the last 16 as Executive Director.