The fear of god kept an observant Jewish family from chopping down a despised fruit tree, so it took an act of god — Hurricane Irene’s winds of fury — to answer the prayers of neighbors on a small Midwood block.
On Saturday, Irene huffed and puffed and blew down a giant mulberry tree on E. 27th Street between Avenue I and Campus Road that for years had dropped sticky fruit on neighbors’ cars and littered the sidewalk with a tacky, dark-purple paste that made residents walk in the street to avoid stepping in the mess.
“Everybody hated that tree,” said Ralph Davidson, 73.
Including the people who owned it, who for years refused to take the ax to the behemoth out of fear that god would smite them.
“If you cut down a fruit tree, you can — god forbid — lose a family member,” said homeowner Daniel Roth. “It’s a Jewish thing. People don’t do it.”
To some Jews, custom dictates they not chop down living trees that bear fruit.
But no good deed goes unpunished, and when Mother Nature knocked the tree over, it downed the block’s power lines, leaving the neighbors without electric as the wires sizzled in the street on Monday. On top of that (literally) the tree’s remains blocked off their dead end street, pinning neighbors in — and when it tumbled, it took a piece of Roth’s foundation with it, and landed on a parked car in a final act of aggression against its embattled human foes.
“Yes, we wanted it gone — but not this way,” said neighbor George Weill.
On Monday, workers with heavy equipment labored to part the dead tree to free the people, who’ll be happy to see it gone.
“This is the one last annoyance this is causing me — it’s [the tree’s] last hurrah,” said Roth.