Etrog: The Wandering Fruit Exhibition will run from September 5 – November 20, 2023 at the Herbert & Eileen Bernard Museum at Temple Emanu-El.
The etrog is a curious fruit, rarely seen in grocery stores or used in kitchens. Yet the citron, as it is called in English, is an indispensable part of the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot that has accompanied the Jewish people on long twists and turns.
The fruit is so rare that medieval Jewish communities appointed special emissaries to locate and acquire it. Wealthy connoisseurs commissioned ornate boxes of wood and precious metals to protect it for the seven days of its use. Even today, just one man grows the etrog commercially in the US — and he’s a Presbyterian!
The artifacts, manuscripts, fine silver and ephemera on display present the story of this small object as a tale of home-away-from-home, of wandering and belonging, tradition and innovation, climate and commerce, a symbol of the peculiarities of Jewish peoplehood.