How a Chinese fruit became a Sukkot symbol

Etrogim can come with a hefty price tag, such as this one that retailed for $345 in Brooklyn. (David Moster)

NEW YORK (JTA) — The holiday of Sukkot isn’t complete without a lulav and an etrog, the four species that Jews are commanded to wave on the harvest holiday. But according to a new book, it wasn’t until the Second Temple period that Jews started using the lemon-like etrog as part of their Sukkot celebrations.

In ancient times, people would simply use whichever fruits they had harvested in that season, such as pomegranates, grapes, dates and figs, says Rabbi David Moster, who has been researching the etrog for a decade and published a book on its history in April.

That’s because the Bible isn’t quite clear about which fruit God wants the Jews to use to celebrate Sukkot.

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