U.S. Customs issues guidelines on Sukkot species

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Customs issued guidelines for bringing into the United States the four species of Sukkot.

The gist of the guidelines issued Tuesday is that the species will be allowed in subject to inspection.

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) understands that observant Jewish travelers entering the United States during the Sukkot holiday might carry religious items (etrogs, palm fronds, twigs of willow and myrtle) in their vehicles if arriving at land border ports of entry, or in their personal baggage if they are arriving by aircraft," says the directive e-mailed to the heads of religious movements by Sanquanett Williams, the program manager for agriculture safeguarding at U.S. Customs, which is a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

"These items are regulated to prevent the introduction of invasive pests and diseases; however, these items might be allowed into the United States after inspection by CBP agriculture specialists."

Signs of disease or insect infestation will disqualify items generally.

More specific restrictions include the following:

* Etrogs will only be allowed in through "Atlantic ports north of and including Baltimore; ports on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway; Canadian Border ports east of and including North Dakota; and Washington, D.C. (including Dulles) for air shipments" and "Pacific ports north of California including Alaska, Canadian Border ports west of and including Montana, excluding Hawaii";

* Twigs of willow from Europe or that are "green in color, have soft tissue present, or have buds that sprouted" are banned entry.

The other two species, palm fronds and twigs of myrtle, are simply subject to inspection.

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