Shuk Machane Yehuda


Erev Shabbat (Friday) crowds at shuk Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem (click to enlarge)

In the Torah portion of  Shlach Moshe sends representatives to spy out the Land.  They report that in Eretz Yisrael, everything is larger than life, from the size of her fruits to the size of the enemy inhabitants.  I guess not much has changed!

The shuk is probably my most favorite place in the world.  It is a concentrated burst of bounty in each of the myriad specialty shops: one for dried fruit, another for fresh; shops for vegetables; others for cheese, another for meats, and yet another for fish; stands for seeds and nuts; spices; flavored teas; unusual rice mixes; housewares; clothes; Judaica; bread; rugelach.

When I used to live in Israel, I would visit the shuk every Tuesday, because if I went early enough I could find a parking place, and early in the week the shuk wasn’t overly crowded.  This time, however, I was simply a tourist with a camera.  I went on a Friday, which is when the entire world seems to go, tourists and pre-Shabbat shoppers alike.  It is hard to describe the sea of determined shoppers, the din, the commotion, the color.  Of the dozens of languages one can hear, amid the mixed multitude of people of every color and country east, west, north and south, Sephardi, Ashkenazi, religious and secular, this giant melting pot of Jews is truly an “ingathering of exiles.”    I thought you might enjoy this mouth-watering but calorie-free pictorial essay.  It helps remind us how HaShem has blessed the Jewish People in our Land! (click on any photo to enlarge)

Only in Israel! The two Ashkenazi guys on the right are "jamming" for a few coins, but they are singing "Ki Eshmara Shabbat" - a religious song in honor of the approaching Sabbath. Meanwhile, a Sephardi shopper (in blue scarf) overcome with excitement, spontaneously joined the drummer, while singing loudly along.

tea mixes

Can someone please enlighten me as to what type of fruit this is? Someone suggested lichi but I've never seen one in a magenta color. Please leave your answer in the "comments" section - thank you!


I was so busy taking pictures, I didn't realize that this shopkeeper was hiding behind his paper, with a gesture of impatience towards me! Can't you just hear him saying, "Nu, Lady, what do you want from me already?"

The Halvah King, handing out free samples to the crowd

At "Halvah Kingdom," there are 100 varieties of fresh halvah. It's expensive and fattening - - and heavenly!

These fresh halva flavors are (l. to r.) capuccino coffee bean pecan, pitaschio cocoa bean, and cinnamon cardamon hazelnut marble. Tough decision!


fresh carrot or citrus juice

a great deal on machine-knitted kipot for 5 shekels. The hand-crocheted ones go for 40 - 60 shekels each.

mezuza covers. kiddush cups and candlesticks


Are these lichi nuts?

exotic mixes of spices and toppings

5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tiger Mike on March 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Tonight at dinner our older daughter was telling us about the Halva King. My younger daughter says she wants to live in Jerusalem and spend all her money at the Shuk. I have never been there. Tomorrow it is the only thing on my list to do. My goal is to get my picture taken with the Halva King (and eat baked goods!)

    From Jerusalem,
    Tiger Mike


  2. Posted by Temima on March 17, 2011 at 3:40 am

    The magenta one is a dragonfruit. The ones I’ve had have been a mix of bland and tart and something else – interesting. They are absolutely gorgeous, though; a feast for the eyes. You saw the outside – the inside of the peel is a bright purple and white design, and the actual fruit is white, with little black (edible – like a kiwi) seeds. Mah rabu ma’asecha Hashem!

    And I do think that the second picture was of lichi nuts.


  3. Posted by Harriet Schlein on March 17, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Hi – I really enjoyed the pictures. Mine never come out like that. Thanks for sharing!


  4. Posted by saara on March 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    dragon fruit! (aka Pitaya) i remember arriving in israel just before Rosh Hashana and seeing them in the grocery store. My roomates and I took pictures with the weird looking fruit! We actually were able to get one for R”H this year, very interesting… Kind of like a giant kiwi inside.

    the image 3rd to the bottom are lichi nuts.


  5. Thanks for your ID help on the dragonfruit and lichi, everyone! And yes, that halva is so darned expensive – averaging 59 shekel per kilo! (about $8+ lb)


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