Someone stole the etrog from our congregational sukkah.


On Wednesday afternoon I left a lulav and etrog, along with an information and how to sheet, in the Temple Beth Hatfiloh sukkah so that anyone who wished to perform the ritual of waving the lulav and etrog could. I peeked in Thursday morning and interestingly the etrog was gone. The lulav was still there.

I poked around the sukkah and didn’t find any trace of it. I did find some cigarette butts, food in a plastic bag, various other items of trash and a hypodermic needle.

This was depressing, also too because it followed on the heels of a theft at our own house. Yohanna’s car was prowled the night before, with a variety of items stolen: my guitar, a car organizer full of papers and miscellany, and a school bag with algebra book.

Through the great power of social media we have been able to connect with our neighbors and alert them, and also learn about the trend of crime spreading over our neighborhood. And we were even able to recover some of the stuff: the organizer, bag and math book were tossed into a neighbors’s yard. What wasn’t recovered (yet, hopefully), in addition to the guitar, was Yohanna’s beloved Rabbi’s Manual, which belonged to late father.

It is these two pieces, the Rabbi’s Manual and the etrog from the Temple, which hurt the most. I’m assuming people were looking for stuff to take and sell to then use to buy drugs or some such. But to take objects which clearly have no monetary or resale value means that someone took these things on a whim, or to deliberately hurt someone, or as a joke. Stealing objects of value is a crime, but at least a utilitarian crime. Stealing these other objects does nothing more than cause pain to another person.

There is a tradition which connects the four parts of the lulav and etrog with parts of the body. The etrog is equated with the heart. With the missing etrog, a bit of my heart is missing this Sukkot. The temporary nature of the Sukkah as shelter is meant to remind us of the fragility of life. This year it also reminds me of the fragility of our interpersonal relations. Regardless of our social standing or status, we have the power to heal and the power to hurt. And recently I have been at the receiving end of the latter.

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