The Moroccan Origin Of The (Four) Species

The Moroccan Origin Of The (Four) Species

As in the shtetls of Eastern Europe, the Four Species of Sukkot were often a rare, and valued, item in the Jewish communities of Northern Africa. Often several families would share a lulav and etrog. As recently as the middle of the last century, when the Jewish population of Morocco had started to decline, there was one lulav per synagogue.

Today, there are few Jews left in Morocco — down to an estimated few thousand, from a quarter million in 1948 — but you can still find a lulav on the streets of Casablanca. A merchant, above, displays a small supply of palm fronds on the eve of Sukkot.

Jews have lived in Morocco for 2,000 years, since the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, supplemented by immigrants from Spain after the 1492 Expulsion. Many left after the Middle East wars of 1948 and 1967.

About a million Jews with Moroccan origins live in Israel today.

Etrogs are still exported from Morocco for Sukkot, despite a halachic debate about them several decades ago. The country’s etrog crop is seedless, and while one prominent authority questioned these etrogs’ fitness for use during the holiday, most halachic experts ruled them to be kosher.

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