Before Sukkot, our shul’s myrtle twigs shipped from Israel in gaudy Hebrewlicious plastic sleeves. The three branches per pack were destined to join the lulav for a week of shaking in the sukkah. But what of the destiny of the now empty purple packets? I could not imagine throwing them away. The siddur font, the Mardi Gras magenta, the crown imagery, the particularity of purpose, the pains taken to select perfectly kosher specimens to ship halfway around the world: all too exotic and too intentional to just toss in the recycle bin. Imagine the word “הדסים” squashed amongst empty toilet paper tubes and margarine lids. So, I made “Art.”
Now I have a kitschy wall hanging for next year’s sukkah. Impervious to rain and hung from a naked date palm spine. (The palm surrendered all 60 leaflets for use in other projects: garlands, mats, baskets, plaits and such. See those here. )
I kept to the myrtle rule of three. Three sleeves as warp and woof of this simple weave echo the three myrtle branches and the three-leaf pattern on each branch: to be kosher for lulav inclusion, myrtle leaves must grow in a whorl along the stem—not alternate, not opposite, but in threes. Like it says in Schoolhouse Rock, “three is a magic number.”
And what is the destiny of the now redundant myrtle shipped in these packets? After Sukkot, some were plucked by my 2nd grade Art class to yield dried leaves for Havdalah besamim. Crumbled in hand, they smell lovely. (We even tasted some, but they were too intense, like eating perfume.) Some will kindle the pre-Passover burning of leaven. Some I will save intact to show at Purim when we talk about Esther, whose name in Hebrew is Hadas (myrtle). Some are still waiting for me to decide what else I can make.
Back story: I asked for and received my synagogue’s leftover lulavim and etrogim, and was determined not to waste a thing…