A day at the market

by AGreene / Sep 19, 2008 /

A large part of life in Israel is shopping. Not clothes shopping, although there are plenty of places to do that. I mean food shopping and when I say food shopping, I'm talking about shopping at an open market. Living in United States, people grow accustomed to shopping for produce at their local grocery store. Farmer's markets or small, open markets are few and far between in your average city. Not so in Jerusalem!

One of the loves of my life while living in Jerusalem was the shuk (pronounced shoo-k). The official name is Mahane Yehuda, but it is regularly referred at as the shuk. It is a large, open produce market with dozens of vendors selling everything you need in your kitchen and home. They sell everything from fresh bread to herbs, decadent desserts to pasta strainers. The market is a barrage to the senses, the aromas of fresh fruit mixed with baking pita, the kaleidoscope of colors from produce and the vivaciousness of vendors selling their wares while people push past you.

There's a pulsating, palable life when you enter the shuk. Everything you need is at your feet, sometimes literally. The flood of people range from the strictly observant to the casual secular, and yet they all come to this one place for the same reason. There is no other place like it. During holidays or festivals, the center of the shuk can have special decorations and festivities, like large menorahs, lights strung across balconies, bands playing, dressed-up performance artists, etc.  

Even thinking about it, I grow wistful for it. You can go everyday to pick up the little things for that night's dinner or go Friday morning, the place insane with shoppers scurrying back and forth trying to get their shopping done before everything closes. The vibrancy of the experience seeps into you, making you feel jittery with excitement, wanting to watch what other people buy and see all the food that's on display.

 

A Greene is the Living in Israel Editor for Wandering Educators.

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