For those who are not strictly observant, the search for the perfect, unblemished etrog—that bumpy, fragrant, lemon-like citrus fruit—to parade around with during Sukkot prayers might seem to border on the fetishistic. That said, there are those, religious and secular, who take the etrog very seriously—all year round.

Daniel Estrin discovered this recently at the Machane Yehude market in Jerusalem. There, the etrog craze is fueled by Uzi Eli, a purveyor of etrog-based creams, sprays, and potions that promise to bring just about every imaginable benefit—from the clearing of scratchy throats to the lifting of saggy breasts. Here’s an audio postcard from Eli’s busy market stall, two days before Sukkot began.

Uzi Eli, etrog man
Left: Uzi Eli’s stall. Right: Uzi Eli and worker Shachar.

Photos: Daniel Estrin.