Where Jerusalemites converge - Mahaneh Yehuda market

Published on Wednesday, 30 October 2013 by Webmaster

Where Jerusalemites converge - Mahaneh Yehuda market
(In the photo by Noam Chen: Machne Yehuda Spice shop)

Locals elide the name of Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market to “Mahneyuda” or just "the shuk,” Hebrew for market. It's the live side of the capital, the place to experience the throb of the city and the cacophony of vociferous and sometimes endearingly eccentric market traders. It delights tourists, who find themselves part of Jerusalem, rather than just observers. As a newcomer, you participate on the same terms as residents. Same vibes. Same prices. Same delightful assault to all five senses. Indeed, it is one of Jerusalem’s great institutions.

All Jerusalem comes together at the shuk. Religious and secular, rich and financially-challenged, Jewish and not Jewish, resident and tourist: all need their tomatoes, and nobody wants them at less than their best. Indeed, tourists from outside Israel are immediately struck by the freshness of the fruit and vegetables. Chances are the onions you picked up at the shuk were still in the ground a few days ago, and spent not more than an hour or two in transit.

The shuk is simultaneously moving in several directions. The conservative element, some of whom have traded here for generations, provide increasingly wide ranges of housewares, pastries, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, pita baked in traditional taboun ovens and (kosher) meat and poultry.

Some stalls are decidedly specialist. As you go through the covered market, you'll see someone from the Halva Kingdom offering samples of the shop's more than 100 varieties of the sesame-based sweet. Each one is attractively presented as a huge millstone.

The upscaling of the once quotidian shuk is also in evidence in a number of small, excellent eateries whose offerings include (kosher) Spanish tapas, Yemenite jahnoun (a steamed, rolled dough), Italian pasta, British fish and chips and more.

In short, come hungry and eat your way through the shuk, as though you were in Singapore.

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