The Big Felafel

How Does the Shuk Work?

Everyone is always talking about Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda outdoor market place- better know as the shuk. If you are not in the know I will bring you up to speed. Imagine a really long outdoor hallway paved with cement, high green roof tops, coated with screaming merchants selling everything from the basic fruits to spices that your nose didn’t know exist. Then there are the musicians, tzedakah seekers and Chabadniks handing out Shabbat candles, all weaving in and out of the cafes that continue to pop-up.

The shuk is literally a coupon book come to life with no official price tags on anything. If you are one of those people that loves to tell their friends and family about your latest bargain then this is the market for you.

Tips to shopping success:

Go to the shuk during closing hours when most merchants want to get rid of their produce at reduced prices. Example: 30 pitas for 10 shekels.

If you don’t mind large crowds and have a good pair of shin guards, then you should head to the shuk right before Shabbat (on Friday afternoon) when vendors throw their merchandise in piles throughout the shuk, screaming their crazy deals from doormats to frozen pizzas.

Make sure to sample everything which ensures the quality of your purchase and possibly a free meal during your ultimate shopping experience. And if you know Hebrew use it- this way you don’t look like a tourist and miss out on the deals.

*Have a shuk experience you want to share? Email us your story and help others on their search for the best deal. *


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  1. It has been my experience that whenever you move to a new place, there are one or two things that mark the transition, things that you miss. For example, coming from Canada, I miss maple syrup and fresh blueberries and by now friends and family know to bring maple syrup when they come to visit.
    Shortly after we came back to live in Jerusalem from a 9 year adventure in Cambridge MA where our 2 corner stores were a Whole Foods Market and a Trader Joes, I was walking down the main covered street of the shuk, Etz Hayyim Street. I knew that one thing I was going to miss was the cheese department at Whole Foods where you could discuss your party plans, your guests’ backgrounds. how you were feeling with the cheese person, a professional in a white jacket, and get recommendations on which cheeses would go best. There were even free tastes. And then my attention was drawn to a store where a man in a white jacket was cutting a piece of cheese with a large knife and offering it to one of his customers. I looked into the store and saw, rounds of parmeggiano Reggiano, English Old Cheddar, manchego, a sheep’s milk cheese from Spain, Swiss Gruyere, Dutch Gouda, French Comte. And by the way the cheeses are kosher.
    Was I in heaven? No, somethings have changed in Israel over the years.
    The name of the store? Basher. To find it and explore the shuk further, check out my map of Mahane Yehuda:


    | Reply Posted 14 years, 11 months ago
  2. * Rebecca says:

    Shmuel – I think I’ve been to that cheese shop but didn’t know it had a name. I think that’s where they sell the gourmet humus. It’s so hard to map out the shuk but I like your skeletal outline. I often have a hard time explaining to someone where to buy something or meet up with them. It usually comes out “Um… meet me at the bananas, you know, in the open part” – could you imagine – an interactive shuk map, I’m sure it’s not too far off.

    | Reply Posted 14 years, 11 months ago

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