Monday, October 17, 2005


lulav prices drop after cartel bust

i was going to title this post, "lulav shortage shakes jewish world," which would have explained the $40 i was charged by the local jewish bookstore for my lulav and etrog on sunday. i was all ready to excuse the wilting willows, as well as the myrtle leaves that are already beginning to fall off their branches, because of the "situation," but now, according to the jerusalem post, one israeli importer has been able to smuggle out 100,000 palm fronds from under the noses of the egyptians, who had been holding out on us.
Lulav prices this year are about the same as last year after a meticulously planned lulav cartel was broken at the last minute by a lone exporter from Bnei Brak who managed to import about 100,000 lulavs from El Arish, Egypt on Yom Kippur eve.

According to sources close to the lulav market, the cartel used aggressive methods to corner the local market. Attempts to bring lulavs from Jordan were blocked. The shipment of 100,000 lulavs that eventually broke the cartel was delayed repeatedly. Initially, the shipment was held up by Egyptian officials who insisted on checking every single carton. "This was surprising because the Egyptians never do that," said an Agriculture Ministry official.

The guy was at the border crossing doing everything in his power to stop the shipment," said an Agriculture Ministry source. "But then he disappeared." In a related story, the Chief Rabbinate issued a kashrut warning on myrtle branches [hadasim] purportedly under the halachic supervision of Rabbi Eliezer Simha Weiss of Kfar Haroeh and Emek Chefer. The rabbinate said that only myrtle branches in wrapping that has Weiss's full name clearly printed without abbreviations are under Weiss's supervision.
this was predicted to be such a big problem that the u.s. congress, who apparently don't have that much going on this year, and are not taking the jewish vote for granted, tried to get involved:
“We’ve got everybody on the case, and I told them to shake a leg,” Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) told JTA, pun intended.

Ackerman has raised the issue in meetings with the Egyptian ambassador to the United States and America’s ambassador to Egypt, and says he also has put a call in to Osama el Baz, a top political adviser to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

In addition, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has sent a letter to the Egyptian ambassador urging Egypt to “consider the needs of Jewish communities around the world and allow for a sufficient number of these palm fronds to be exported this year.”
what's next? will the good folks in idaho start hoarding potatoes a month before hanukkah?

and just for the record, someday, i hope that i too can become a "source close to the lulav market" ... that's what rabb school is all about ...

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