Observant Jews in Israel were spared Sunday from not being able to properly observe the upcoming holiday of Sukkot, the Israeli Agriculture Ministry said, after a last minute solution was found to a shortage of palm fronds.
According to the Bible, during the weeklong Sukkot holiday, known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jews are commanded to bind together a palm frond, or "lulav," with two other branches. Along with an "etrog," a lemon-like citrus fruit, they make up the "four species" used in holiday rituals.
Israel's main lulav source has been Egypt, importing 700,000 palm fronds each year from El Arish in the Sinai peninsula.
However, six weeks ago the Egyptian Agriculture Ministry announced it was forbidding the cutting of palm fronds in the Sinai, saying it damaged the trees.
Orthodox Jews complained that the Israeli government did not take the matter seriously, and no solution had been found, just over a week before the holiday begins.
On Sunday, the Agriculture Ministry announced a solution had been found: 600,000 of the palm fronds were in Israel or on their way. About 300,000 had already been acquired from Egypt, 150,000 had been authorized for purchase from Jordan and an additional 150,000 were expected to arrive from Egypt, said Agriculture Ministry spokeswoman Dafna Yurista, reporetd AP.