All You Want to Know About Machane Yehuda – Part 5: The Shuk Calendar

Machane Yehuda Seasonal Produce Calendar

The Israeli seasonal produce calendar I created. Link is below, in the post.

Click Here for Part 4 of “All You Want to Know About Machane Yehuda”

Now that I’ve covered the history and development of the Machane Yehuda Market, I want to focus on the “whens” of the shuk. The market is not the same every time you visit there. It shifts and changes with the hours of the day, the days of the week and the months of the year. Different seasons bring different produce to the stands. The rhythms of the Jewish holiday calendar also affect the things one might find in the market. And the shuk even feels different on different days of the week.

If you were to drop me in Machane Yehuda without telling me when it was, I could probably tell you the time of year and the day of the week just by looking around. I refer to this as “The Shuk Calendar,” and I want to share it with you now.

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All You Want to Know About Machane Yehuda – Part 4: Making Improvements

Brand new roofs over Machane Yehuda

The new roofs over the shuk in March 1990

Click Here for Part 3 of “All You Want to Know About Machane Yehuda”

The shuk today is much nicer, cleaner and developed than it once was. (I know some people still think it is too dirty or smelly, but I disagree. Not trying to convince anyone though!) The improvements began in the 1970s, and have continued until today.

The Big Cover-Up

Nowadays, almost the entire shuk is covered by roofing, except the wide open street of Machane Yehuda, the Shuk HaGruzini and the courtyard off of the Iraqi Shuk that holds Azura Restaurant, a backgammon club and public bathrooms. (I will tell you where all the public bathrooms are in a future post as well.) Over the years before the official roofing, shop owners put up makeshift, ramshackle tin covers. The first street to receive public roofing was HaTapuach Street, in 1978. It was not, however, the same style of roofing that we have today. Rather, the street was covered tightly in a solid, gabled roof.

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All You Want to Know About Machane Yehuda – Part 3: Building Permanence

Sculptured Apple Street Sign

A creative street sign on Rachov HaTapuach – Apple Street

Click Here for Part 2 of “All You Want to Know About Machane Yehuda”

Following the early developments at Machane Yehuda Market through the first few decades of the 20th Century, the shuk found a permanent home in Jerusalem. This called for other changes that would solidify this permanence, over the decades of the mid-century.

Is There Only One Shuk at the Shuk?

As should be clear from the early history of the shuk, the changes and developments that occur in Machane Yehuda come about organically and due to necessity or external changes affecting the life of the city. Thus, the market developed and grew in stages, with at least 6 different sections built at different times by different groups of people.

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All You Want to Know About Machane Yehuda – Part 2: The Early Years

Shoppers at Shuk Machane Yehuda

Jerusalemites of all types shop and meet in Machane Yehuda

Click Here for Part 1 of “All You Want to Know About Machane Yehuda”

In my last post on “the Shuk,” I gave you some of the background information. What the shuk is, why it is located where it is and where its name comes from. But I also mentioned that I see Machane Yehuda market as the city in microcosm, with the changes there reflecting the changes in Jerusalem itself.

So in this and the next two posts, I want to explore that a bit more, and discuss some of those alterations throughout the 125-or-so years of its history. How did it move from a bunch of produce crates in an empty field to the bustling, developed warren of shop-lined alleys and streets that we are all so familiar with today?

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All You Want to Know About Machane Yehuda – Part 1: Background

The shuk from above

Machane Yehuda Shuk on a sunny, not very busy afternoon

One of my absolute favorite places in Jerusalem — and not just as a tour guide but also as a city resident — is Machane Yehuda, the outdoor market at the heart of the city. I’m a real foodie, and this market (commonly just referred to as “the shuk” — the Hebrew and Arabic word for market) is a gourmand’s playground. I’ve given many a tour there, and love bringing people to what I consider my second home.

And yet, I realized that there is so much more to the shuk than just the delicious food. So much history and complexity. To me, Shuk Machane Yehuda is actually the city of Jerusalem in microcosm. The people who shop and visit there reflect the diverse populace of the city. And the changes that have taken place in the shuk over time mimic the changes that have transformed the city itself.

So I decided to create a series of blog posts that will try to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Machane Yehuda market. I first thought about all the things I wanted to tell you about the shuk, and then I also asked friends if they had any questions they wanted answered. This will be the first of at least five different posts, and will deal with background information — some of the what, why, where and when. So if you have questions of your own, please send them to me so I can try to include answers in future posts!

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Israel Mystery Photo #22

Another Israel Mystery Photo

Where in Israel is This?

Okay folks, it is time for another Israel Mystery Photo! In this game, I show you a picture I took somewhere on tour in Israel, and then you try to identify it. Then in the next post, I put on my guide hat, and give you some more information about it! So, post your guesses here about where the picture to the left was taken. I’ll tell you all about it next time.

Meanwhile, as most people guessed last time around (both in the comments and when I posted it on Facebook), the last Israel Mystery Photo was taken at the YMCA building in Jerusalem, way up high in the bell tower. Anyone who has visited Jerusalem knows that the YMCA is one of the most beautiful structures in the city. And the tower offers some of the best 360-degree views in town.

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“Show Me Something I Haven’t Seen”

Elah Valley Fortress

Khirbet Qeiyafa – Aerial Photo Looking South (photo from Kh. Qeiyafa Archaeological Project)

While many of my tourists are visiting Israel for their first time, I also get the privilege to guide some groups who have visited Israel many times before. This means that most of the sites that I commonly bring tourists to are not of interest to these groups since they have already visited there in the past. They often ask me to show them something new, or at least new for them. And I take this request seriously. Plus I enjoy the challenge!

I of course try to tailor every tour I guide to the individual desires of the specific tourists. But that customized approach still usually draws from a selection of prominent and important sites. So the bulk of my tours visit places that I guide at frequently.

This past week, however, I had the pleasure of guiding two small groups who had both been here many times. This gave me the opportunity to take them to some places I guide at less frequently, some of which I had been to but never had guided before. Here are few of those places…

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Today in Israeli History: Jerusalem is Our Capital

On the corner of King George and Hillel Streets, the building where the Knesset met in Jerusalem.

The Knesset’s early home in Jerusalem, Frumin House

I have had the distinct pleasure this week of guiding at a number of sites throughout Jerusalem where I don’t frequently guide. Among them was a visit to the Supreme Court building on Givat Ram, in the government complex.

In that part of the city are numerous buildings connected to all three branches of government. The Supreme Court building connects via a straight path to the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), and nearby a cluster of other government buildings house the various Ministry offices. Other national (or significant) institutions, such as the Israel Museum, Hebrew University and Bank of Israel are also situated in the area. This area is the governmental seat in the national capital.

But while Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, it was not always a given that it would be such. When the Knesset first formed, near the end of the War for Independence, the Knesset met in Tel Aviv in a building near the beach where the Opera Tower stands today. Furthermore, the State of Israel had been declared in Tel Aviv. But clearly, the founders of our State always considered Jerusalem the capital. Circumstances simply conspired to keep them in Tel Aviv.

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In A Place Where There Are No Men

Israel Tour Guide Joel Haber guiding in Even Yisrael

Guiding a group in Jerusalem’s Nachlaot neighborhood

In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man. — Ethics of the Fathers 2:5

I’ve always appreciated the above quote, taken from Pirkei Avot, a book from the Mishnah, full of useful proverbs to live by. And while I think a better translation of the word ish here might be (the non-sexist) “person” instead of “man,” my preferred translation lacks oomph. Essentially, this is a charge to stop looking around and pointing fingers about what needs to be done. If you see something that needs to be done and no one else is doing it, get off your butt and do it!

What does this have to do with Israeli tourism and/or tour guiding here? As you know, even from the start this blog was not just focused on tourism in Israel, but also on the profession of tour guiding here (and in particular, the tour guide training course, while I was in it).

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More From Me

Israel Tour Guide Joel Haber with a group

Follow me and I’ll take you there!

A brief post to let you know about a few new things I am doing that you might be interested in. Of course I have my blog here, but I am also starting to write in a few more places. The content will be different in each place, so if you like what I have to say, you might be interested in hearing more. I promise to try to keep things interesting!

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