When Egypt recently announced it will be boycotting the sale of lulavim to Israel this year, the response was “prices will go crazy”. According to a report in HaMevaser, this is not so and in actuality; wholesalers remain committed to keep the price at a fair level and not to take advantage of the situation.
Actually, HaMevaser explains there will be an ample supply of Deri lulavim and there will not be a shortage as a result of Egypt’s decision.
In addition, the Shulchan Tamar Association, an umbrella organization representing date growers, reached agreement as to the price of lulavim for wholesalers. A regular [non-mehadrin] lulav will not cost more than NIS 10-12, including value added tax. That translates to a lulav in the retail market not exceeding NIS 30, including the tax.
The Egyptian decision has resulted in pressure and officials of Shulchan Tamar report they are working around-the-clock to cut a sufficient number of lulav branches to meet the demand. In Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi in the Beit Shean Valley for example, a dati leumi kibbutz, extra manpower has been taken on to cut and package lulavim in time for pre-yomtov sales. The kibbutz operates under constant rabbinical supervision, and if all goes well, it will succeed in sending 100,000 mehadrin lulavim into the marketplace.
Kibbutz manager Avner Rotem explains that today, there continues to be a growing demand for pre-packaged lulavim with a good hashgacha rather than years ago when more shoppers opted to pick and examine a lulav on their own.
Interestingly, Ministry of Agriculture officials report the demand is between 600,000 – 700,000 lulavim while local growers insist they cannot produce more than 500,000. The void is filled by private entrepreneurs who bring lulavim in on their own they explain. Rotem explains that local production and limited imports are more than sufficient to meet the national demand.
In another lulav related story, for Israelis traveling to North America a reminder; 4 minim may not be brought into the country. Efforts to permit travelers to bring 4 minim have failed and officials at JFK International Airport have made it clear, none of the Sukkos minim will be permitted into the country with arriving passengers.
A source quoted in the daily HaMevaser said that anyone apprehended trying to smuggle in any of the minim will be fined $350 as well as having the item(s) confiscated.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)