Thursday, June 4, 2020 -
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An etrog grows in Holland

Rachel Levy's etrog in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Rachel Levy’s etrog in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

No, it’s not a lime, but a baby etrog! We’re so used to the full grown fruit, not many of us stopped to think about how it all starts out. But one woman in Holland did, and JTA had the story.

Eight years ago, Rachel Levy planted several seeds of an etrog tree in a pot on her balcony in Utrecht, the Organization of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands, or NIK, wrote in its weekly newsletter sent out last week during Sukkot, which ended Tuesday. Most of the seeds, which came from a fruit that grew in Israel, did not germinate.

But following record-breaking temperatures in the Netherlands, the tree produced what may be the country’s first naturally-grown etrog fruit in decades.

One, however, grew into a sapling that produced fruit for the first time this year, which featured the warmest summer in three centuries. The single fruit is green and about the size of a large plum, and therefore far smaller than the fruit grown in Israel, Morocco and Italy for export during the holiday.

Etrog, or citrus medica, is a subtropical fruit that originated in China, making its way from East Asia to India. It rarely survives the northern European winters of the Amsterdam region, which is situated one degree north of the latitude of Calgary, Canada. Levy told NIK that she takes the sapling inside her home during the harsh winter, but returns it to the balcony as soon as the thermometer rises beyond the point of freezing.

We’re not sure what the maturity of an etrog is, but the question we have is whether Levy will be shaking her own homegrown etrog next year on Sukkot.

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