Lulavs, aka palm fronds from date trees, are an integral part of the prayer ceremony for Sukkot. But there's been a shortage of quality fronds lately—Egypt, a major supplier, recently banned exports for two years, citing a danger to the trees. So some religious suppliers have begun traveling from New York to date farms in Arizona and California to ensure enough supply of the prized fronds. That means that fronds this year will be more expensive, bad news for buyers of a whole "four species" Sukkot package that can already cost upwards of $300.
Or, take a page from brothers Shulem and Schmiel Ekstein, who live in Kiryas Joel, New York, and bought a plot of land in the Arizona desert to grow their own palms. “We want the strongest, the most beautiful, the straightest,” Shulem told the Times. “Everyone wants the nicest ones, but most people have no idea where theirs came from. We know.”
If you're not planning on hunting down your own set of four species or erecting your own Sukkah for the holiday but still want a chance to shake your lulav, head on down to Chabad of Tribeca's sukkah, open at 70 Warren Street from October 12 through 19.