Shusterman Distinguished Scholar Lecture:
The Curious Case of the Etrog Merchant
Joshua Teplitsky, Ph.D.
October 13, 7:00 pm, ET Online and In-person
Since antiquity, the etrog has held a special, but often overlooked place not only at the festival of sukkot, but as a symbol of Jewish identity, an object of artistic attention, and as a source of collective communal concern. In this talk we will examine a pivotal figure in this unexamined history: the etrog merchant, or esroger. We will explore the comings-and-goings of this official agent of premodern Jewish communities of Central and Eastern Europe, and the ways in which Jewish law and literature approached the challenges of finding an etrog with creativity, and sometimes even comedy.
Joshua Teplitsky is an associate professor and the Joseph Meyerhoff Chair in Modern Jewish History at the University of Pennsylvania. He has held fellowships at the University of Oxford, the National Library of Israel, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University. His book, Prince of the Press: How One Collector Built History's Most Enduring and Remarkable Jewish Library was published by Yale University Press in 2019 and was named the winner of the Salo Baron Prize of the AAJR for best first book in Jewish Studies in 2019, the 2020 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award of the Association for Jewish Studies, and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. He is currently at work on a book reconstructing a plague epidemic in eighteenth-century Prague and its impact on Jewish social and cultural life in the city. He is the editor, with Warren Klein and Sharon Liberman Mintz of Be Fruitful! The Etrog in Jewish Art, Culture, and History (Mineged, 2022).