Israel has received its first-ever shipment of etrogs from Morocco ahead of the Sukkot holiday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The etrog, a fruit of the citron tree, is one of the four species—along with the lulav from the date palm tree, hadassim from the myrtle tree, and aravot from the willow tree—mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as being connected with the holiday of Sukkot. According to biblical scholars, the Moroccan etrog grows in the Atlas Mountains, a region that is the birthplace of the original etrog that is mentioned in the bible. The decision to import approximately 1,500 etrogim was due to a push from Israel’s Sephardic community. A team from the Israeli Agricultural Ministry inspected the fruit to deem it worthy enough for importing before ordering the rest. Though they agreed to the etrog deal, Israel and Morocco do not share formal diplomatic relations. But the two countries did have brief economic and cultural ties during the 1990s, following the Oslo Accords. Morocco was once home to more than 250,000 Jews, many of whom immigrated to Israel in the mid-20th century. Recent efforts have been made by Morocco to protect its Jewish history and to encourage Jewish tourism.