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Joshua Teplitsky headshot
October 13 2022

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.

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What the American Synagogue Learned from the US Constitution 

In 1790, the trustees of Congregation Shearith Israel of New York approved a revised constitution. The document began: “We, the members of the K.K. [i.e., “Kehillah Kedoshah (holy congregation)] Shearith Israel, met this day by a legal summons from the junta [board] published in the synagogue two Sabbath days successively, do by these present in the most solemn manner, in the presence of the Almighty and of each other, agree to form such rules to serve for and be considered as a constitution, and to accede to such other institutions, rules, and regulations as may be conducive to the general good of this congregation.”

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