Despite the fact that date palm branches, used in ritual ceremonies during the
festival of Succot, will not be imported from Egypt this year, merchants in
Jerusalem have said that there is no shortage and that prices should remain
One of the religious observances of Succot is the use of the Four
Species, or Arba Minim in Hebrew, in prayer services for the duration of the
The Four Species comprise palm branches (lulavim), citrons
(etrogim), myrtle stems (hadassim) and willow stems (aravot).
branches from Egypt known as El-Arish branches were regularly imported into
Israel in years past but the revolution in Egypt and the deterioration in ties
with Israel have hindered this process.
According to the Agriculture
Ministry, El-Arish palm branches will not be imported this year since the
ministry was not able to make the requisite arrangements with the its
counterparts in Cairo.
But Arba Minim merchants in Jerusalem’s ultra-
Orthodox Mea She’arim neighborhood say that despite the lack of El-Arish
branches there will be no shortage this year.
Several traders approached
by The Jerusalem Post said that there is now a sufficient harvest of lulavim in
Israel to supply the majority of the Israeli market.
A spokesman for the
Agriculture Ministry confirmed that efforts to secure the export of El-Arish
branches had not been particularly strenuous because of the satisfactory
production in Israel.
However, the El-Arish branches are generally
considered to be of lower quality, and therefore less desirable, than the Deri
or Zahidi date palms grown in Israel.
As such, the haredi market
generally uses Israeli branches, and will not be affected by the lack of
Egyptian lulavim, but one dealer said that the lack of El-Arish branches might
lead to a slight increase in prices for those have been less punctilious about
the quality of their lulavim in the past.