The Big Felafel

Like=Candy! The Purim Mishloach Manot Project for Lone Soldiers. Yay!

Purim is definitely in the air. What I mean is Jerusalem is now full of even more crazies than usual. Little kids are already wearing face paint and getting dressed up in celebration of the holiday. People seem to be drinking more around me, and I’m going to say it’s because of a countdown to Purim. And those oh so delicious (OK they’re not the most tasty pastry but go with it), hamentashens are filled with all kinds of gooey goodness and being sold in every bakery or makulot in the area.

You may not know yet what costume you are going to wear, but I know you want to be a good person this Purim and I’m here to help you make sure you do just that. Eli, of Eli’s Shop in the Mahane Yehuda Shuk, has a very special Purim campaign for lone soldiers and you are about to become a part of it.

The only online shuk vendor is reaching out to the social media community to make sure lone soldiers have a super sweet Purim. The shop has teamed up with the Lone Solider Center in Memory Michael Levin to help provide Israel’s lone soldiers with Purim treats.

“We’re doing this because it’s a unique way to use social media to donate to charity. People all over the world can participate in this and give to lone soldiers in Israel this Purim just by clicking “like” with their mouse… (no credit card required!). We will donate the candies ourselves in the name of all our Facebook Fans in appreciation of their support” Eli tells us. 

The Purim Mishloach Manot Project for Lone Soldiers is a great and easy way to give this Purim. Eli’s shop will match a candy to mishloach manot (Purim gift basket of goodies) for every like the page receives. So all you have to do is like the page (which is awesome, because it’s a shuk vendor online) and you have done your part to ensure that a lone solider—a person who has chosen to come to Israel and serve in the army on their own— will have plenty of sweets this Purim.

We at The Big Felafel will do our part to spread the word. This is an awesome cause and we hope these soldiers get baskets full of candies as a thank you for the incredible work they are doing to protect Israeli citizens.

The Center is dedicated in memory of Michael Levin. Levin was a lone solider who cut a trip short visiting his family in America in order to serve in the Second Lebanon War in 2006. He had to fight to be with his unit and unfortunately he died fighting in Lebanon. This center not only remembers Levin’s heroism, but honors and takes care of other lone soldiers like him.

It’s a mitzvah to give someone a mishloach manot. To give a lone soldier a candy in that mishloach from anywhere in the world is just awesome. This is the ultimate way to celebrate the most fun Jewish Holiday ever!


Happy Hannukah Shuk Style!

EliShuk's for real!

The Mahane Yehuda Shuk is one of my most favorite places in Jerusalem. Almost everything is cheap. You can sample the fruit or the nuts with just a wink of the eye. There are so many different smells you can’t tell the good ones from the fish-head ones. And you get to meet a very unique part of Israeli society, from those that do all their shopping there, to the people that have owned their stalls for generations.

I recently found out that a friend of mine, Alex King, not only has a father-in-law with a stall in the Iraqi shuk, but that he also has the stall online…on Facebook. Not only is this awesome, but I am pretty sure this is the only shuk shop branching out into the social media world.  Alex admits his father-in-law is not the most web savy person, but is just as excited to share his shop online as he is to any customer in the shuk.

For anyone that has out of town guests, tourists or just friends that want to go to the shuk, you should definitely make Eli’s shop a part of the tour. As a part of the online presence, Eli uploads pictures of the latest products and makes sure to give his online audience a special treat with giveaways! Ahhh, now I really have your attention! What kind of treats are we talking about?

Well click hereto score yourself some delicious chocolate coins just in time for Hannukah, and stay tuned for other yummy goods.  And now for a little Q&A about the man behind the stall, the treats and the Facebook page!


Hannukah giveaway

When did Eli’s shop first open in the shuk?
The shop at its current location was established in 1958 by Na’im Shkuri, Eli’s father who immigrated from Iraq in 1951. Up until 1978 the shop sold fruits and vegetables. Since 1978 it branched out into confectionary and in recent years other areas such as electrical goods.

Who is this Eli?

Eli of Eli's Shop

Eli of Eli's Shop

Eli Ben-Na’im was born in Amhara in Southern Iraq. He made Aliyah in 1951 and moved to Jerusalem. He spent his teenage years in Kibbutz Ein Karmel in the North. He served in a combat unit in the army. He has served in all of Israel’s wars from the 1956 Sinai Campaign up to and including the 1982 Lebanon War. He is married, has four daughters and seven grandchildren (with number 8 on the way!). Eli has worked in the shuk since the mid- 1950’s.

Why did Eli decide to bring the shuk shop online?
The shop has been online for half a year now. The Facebook platform was chosen because it offers great social media tools and can also act as a website for the shop, even for people who don’t have Facebook.

All the merchandise in the shop can be seen on the page (in the photo album section) and new products are regularly added.


Sweets for your sweetie!

The page gives the shop a way to communicate with its customers and the wall offers a forum for the customers to post and to talk, fostering a little “on-line shuk community”.

Moreover, all the photos, updates and posts give the user a “taste of the shuk on your computer” which is widely enjoyed by fans that outside of Jerusalem and all over the world.

Most importantly, the page offers fans special deals and discounts from time to time, so click “like” so you can enjoy them!

What is unique about Eli’s shop?
Eli has worked in the shop since it was established in 1958 making the shop probably the last remaining family-run establishment in the “Iraqi Shuk” part of the market that is still staffed by the original founding members. It retains its authentic old-fashioned Jerusalem shuk character. (Most other shops in the Iraqi Shuk are now rented out or subcontracted to hired workers).

To learn more about Eli’s Shop, products click here.

To find Eli click here.

Top 6 Bargains in Israel (and the runner-ups)

Shuk Mahane Yehuda Jerusalem Israel

After being in Israel for over 3 years, I think I have established the top 6 bargains in Israel. But please, if I forgot any, leave a comment and tell me all about it.

  1. Tablecloths for 18 shekels 10 shekels
    I found pretty Shabbat tablecloths that just about everyone seems to have for 18 shek. This deal is so good, it turns out, that every time my mom comes to visit, it is the only thing she stocks up on.
    Where: Agrippas St in Jerusalem, coming up from King George toward the Mahane Yehuda shuk. It is on the left hand side and they usually have the tablecloths displayed on the street.
    Update: The store on  Agrippas went out of business. But you can find an even better deal at Bazar Strauss in Talpiot across from the Achim Yisrael mall
  2. Haircut for 35 shekels
    We previously wrote about how you can get a 35 shekel haircut by a hair-cutting student at Shuki Zukri Diri in downtown Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Turns out that Mr. Zikri owes millions on the grey market and therefore has shut down his beauty salons. Real bummer. The only thing I can recommend now is to wait for a good deal to show up on group deal sites like Groupon or the like.
    Phone: 02-624-0171
  3. Nesher Shared Taxi Sherut for 45 58 shekels
    For 45 50 58 shekels you get door-to-door service from anywhere in Jerusalem to the airport. My friend said he had a hard time finding Nesher’s phone number online so I thought I’d post them. Make sure to call a day or two before to reserve a spot. Here’s a Nesher-specific “Did you know”. Did you know that they don’t have Nesher in Tel Aviv? I mean, I guess it makes sense since it’s so close to the airport but… how do they survive?
    Phone numbers: 02-623-1231, 02-625-7227
  4. Iced Coffee for 5 shekels
    Personally, I like the smooth iced coffee without the icy chunks. But the Iced Coffee from Marzipan in the shuk is so cheap that I just wait for it to melt.
    Where: The Legendary Marzipan bakery is on Agrippas St. but you probably already knew that and just got up to check the fridge to see if you have any rugalech left over.
  5. Autenti clothes 20-50 shekels.
    Autenti sells hippie-ish clothes between 20 and 50 shekels and usually have cute skirts.
    Where: Stores on Yaffo St. and Agrippas St.
  6. 30 pitas for 10 shekels
    Stop by the shuk at night around 8-9:30 as it’s closing to find good deals on pita and other stuff they’re trying to get rid of.
    Where: Try on Yaffo St by the entrance.


  • Stove Lighters for 5 shekels from the dollar store. Obviously the conversion rate of the dollar needs a little update.
  • Duvsheinit Challah for 6 shekels from the shuk
  • Soup Festival at the David Citadel for 48 shekels. The all-you-can-eat soup is from 10am to 11pm every day until the end of March for 48 Shekels. They also have wireless internet, so you can pretty much just move in and set up your office right next to the soup buffet.

These deals are updated as of January 18, 2012, so they are likely to change due to inflation. No guarantees.