Chag Sameach

I was walking out of Phelps Hall after teaching my Reading Fiction for Craft class. An Orthodox Jew—a Chabadnik, a Lubavitcher, I’m guessing, since he was doing outreach—approached me with a lulav and an etrog. Excuse me, he said, are you Jewish? I am! I said, Chag Sameach! During the brief time that I was both a Jew and a Brooklynite, I never really wanted to deal with these guys, but tonight, I welcomed it. Chag Sameach, he said, you have time for a quick mitzvah? I do! I said. He put the lulav in my hand. Repeat after me, he said, and we said the lulav blessing. Halfway through the prayer I realized out of the corner of my eye that he had a partner who was also asking passers-by if they were Jewish. Then he put the etrog in my other hand, and we said the Shehechiyanu. The Chabadnik seemed like a happy teacher when I caught up with him in the prayer, when I wasn’t just repeating after him. I thanked them for the mitzvah. Now my right hand smells like etrog, like I’ve been holding a lemon, except something different, more exotic, something sweeter than a lemon. I don’t want to wash my hand.