Reading Palms


Come Sukkot, you can buy your lulav and etrog online. Just visit or

But if you favor a more tactile experience, you shlep to a Jewish bookstore, or to a street-side stand in a Jewish neighborhood and pick out a set of the Arba Minim, the Four Species, yourself.

Some people do it after Rosh HaShanah, but the busy period is between Yom Kippur and the start of Sukkot, when Jewish New York becomes one gigantic Jewish store. Preparing for the last of Tishrei’s holidays, customers spend their time in an annual ritual, inspecting pre-fab sukkahs, ornate lulav cases, various accoutrements for one’s sukkah and Sukkot table: and of course, the citrons, willow leaves, palm fonds and myrtle branches that are shaken together over yom tov as lulav and etrog.

For the budget-minded, lulav and etrog sets start at about $36, twice chai. For the more affluent, the sky (in this case, a few hundred dollars high) is the limit.

Depending on where you shop, the language of choice is English or Yiddish or Hebrew. Or, at the impromptu lulav and etrog shops of Crown Heights, above, a heavy smattering of Russian.

The corner of Eastern Parkway and Kingston Avenue, near "770," the headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, was the neighborhood’s ground zero for Arba Minim sales this week, entrepreneurs selling their goods from a half-dozen tables.

Zalman Labkowski, inset left, looks over a prize etrog, while Chaim Teleshevsky, inset right, holds a new lulav.