Announcement about the Purchasing of Etrogim, 1933
This poster, from October 1, 1933, is an announcement from the Beth Din (rabbinical court) regarding the sale of etrogim (citrus fruit) before the festival of Sukkot. Due to the rising cost, many people could not afford to buy the etrogim that are required for the festival. The leaders of the community therefore requested all synagogue wardens to buy a communal set of the Four Species for their congregation and thus enable everyone, even those who could not afford it, to perform the mitzvah (commandment) of waving and blessing the Four Species.
The festival of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) has two central commandments: the first is living in a temporary dwelling (Sukkah) for seven days (or eight days outside of Israel); and the second is waving the Four Species (Arba’at HaMinim) and making a blessing over them on each day of the festival. Each of the Four Species has certain requirements enabling them to be fitting (kosher), and therefore the buyer must check thoroughly before purchasing. The Four Species consist of lulav (palm branch), etrog (citrus fruit), hadass (myrtle branches), and aravah (willow branches).
The etrog is the most expensive of the Four Species and has the following requirements: the peel cannot be punctured, cracked, dry or peeled; it should be shaped like a tower, namely, wider at the bottom and narrower at the top; if the etrog grew with a protruding stem (a pitom), then that stem cannot be broken off. (If the Etrog grew originally without the pitom, then it is still kosher.)
The poster was printed in 1933 and relates to economic difficulties that were prevalent at the time. It was the time of the British Mandate and the economic infrastructure of the country was still weak with a clear divide between the more advanced and more traditional sectors of society.
Teachers of Jewish Studies could use this poster when discussing Sukkot in general and the Four Species in particular.
Teachers of Jewish History could use this resource when discussing the years of the British Mandate in Israel and the economic plight of the Jews at this time.
Arts or Communications teachers can present this as an historical example of public announcement and compare it to media today.
Who wrote the poster?
Who was the poster aiming at?
When was the poster printed?
What is the message of the poster?
Reading Between the Lines
What is an etrog?
What are the traditional requirements of the etrog?
What is Sukkot?
What are the central themes and commandments of Sukkot?
Why is the etrog the focus of the poster?
What is a Beth Din?
Why did they make this order?
Why do you think there was financial hardship at the time?
How does this poster support the value of charity?
Who do the Beth Din criticise and why?
Have you or your family ever had your own Four Species?
Have you ever held and waved them?
Do you have a Beth Din in your community?
What do you know about them?
This poster was intended to enable everyone to participate in the celebrations of Sukkot.
What charity work do you know of is intended to help people during the festivals?
Have you ever participated in such charity work?
The poster is directed at the gabai (synagogue warden).
If you go to synagogue, does your synagogue have a gabai?
What do you think his or her role might be?
Design a poster appealing to people in your community or school to help people towards a festival, for example:
providing food for festival meals
building or decorating a sukkah for elderly people
or any other great idea…
Write an article about charity work you have done helping people celebrate Sukkot or another festival.
Send us your article with a relevant photograph and we’ll upload it to our website!
Our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to the rise in the cost of etrogim as a result of exaggerated raising of prices the expropriation of currency (by some vendors), there are some people who do not have the means to buy an Etrog.
We have therefore been instructed to issue an edict to all Gabaiim [synagogue wardens] at synagogues and learning centres that only they should buy the Four Species and be prepared to bestow them on the people as is the custom in the Diaspora.
And God in His Mercy will renew upon us a year of blessing and goodness and we will soon merit the complete redemption.
Tishrei 11, 5694