Saving Sukkot: Hear why the Canadian government almost accidentally banned importing lulavs

A new Canadian import law left thousands of lulavs in limbo leading up to Sukkot 2022. (Border photo: Bohao Zhao/Wikimedia Commons; lulav photo: Dana Friedlander/Israeli Ministry of Tourism)

Over the last few days, Canadian border officials blocked a shipment of lulavs bound for Montreal. Why? They believed, erroneously, that the Sukkot staple violated the country’s agriculture laws, designed to prevent dangerous diseases or invasive bugs from entering the country.

The situation caused a panic among religious communities in Ontario and Quebec, as the fate of thousands of lulavs suddenly seemed uncertain. In group chats and across social media, Canadian Jews began freaking out, worried that a longstanding waiver for commercial imports of these products for Sukkot was no longer being granted.

To break down how it all happened, and what it was like at the apex of the tension, we’re joined by Rabbi Leibele Rodal, an importer of lulavs and etrogs, who drove to New York on Sept. 20, 2022, in hopes of securing 1,000 lulavs. Plus, Shimon Koffler Fogel, head of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, will explain the diplomatic dealings that went on behind the scenes of the lulav limbo.

What we talked about:


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Production assistance by Gabrielle Nadler and YuZhu Mou. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.