Taking the Shuk to the Next Level

crowds in the covered market

A typically crowded day in the shuk

Anyone who has spent any time on my blog, or just getting to know me, knows how much I love Jerusalem’s famous outdoor market, Shuk Machane Yehuda. I’ve written a lot about it, I guide there all the time, I’ve been featured in videos and magazine articles about it, and I even like to hang out there on my own free time, too.

Many of you may also know about the tools I’ve created to help tourists (and local residents) maneuver through the shuk more easily and find what they need. I made the only comprehensive and updateable map of the market (and yes, I know it is in serious need of another update — soon, I hope), as well as a calendar that showed when various fruits and vegetables came into season in Machane Yehuda market.

Still, I felt that even with all of the things I do connected with the market, I wanted to do some special things to deepen my connection. After all, I see the market as the beating heart of the city I love, so what better way to express my love for Jerusalem than by kicking my relationship with the shuk up another notch. And so I’ve done a few things of late to take it to the next level!

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A Peek into Jerusalem’s Future

New Jerusalem train station

The escalator that descends to the new underground Jerusalem train station.

I have written before about Batim MiBifnim – Jerusalem Open Houses, both my general appreciation of the free event and about a tour I guided in a previous year. For those who are unfamiliar, this is an annual event that lasts three days. There are walking tours, entry into architecturally interesting private homes and public visits to normally closed, private institutional buildings — all for free! And even though most tours are in Hebrew, there is still plenty to see even for English speakers. In short, it is a peek into a secret side of the city, a real treat for those who love Israel’s capital.

Of course, there is no greater secret than the future. So at this year’s event (a few weeks ago), I focused much of my time on tours that would allow me a window into where the city’s development is heading.

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State of the Shuk – December 2015

Wall of bottles of Israel Beer

The new Beer Bazaar, featuring 100 Israeli craft-brewed beers

As you all know, I love the shuk (Machane Yehuda Market), and am there multiple times a week, often giving tasting tours, or just going there to hang out. So therefore I notice every single change that takes place there, from the smallest stand closing, to a change in what a stand sells, to a restaurant moving from one location to another.

That is why, when I made my map of every stand in Machane Yehuda last year, I specifically sought a way to make it easily updateable. Other maps I’d seen attempted were out of date virtually before the ink was dry on the page (or before the webpage updated). So I labeled the sections of the shuk, and then made a text list to go with it, knowing the stores would change but the streets wouldn’t.

That map came out over a year ago, so I realized it was long overdo for an update. And so I recently did a walk-through at the shuk, writing down all of the things that I needed to change. So today I proudly present you with a fully updated map!

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Fun Joel’s Shuk Tours Offer a Taste of Jerusalem

Achema from Hatchepuria

Achema, from Hatchepuria, a Georgian restaurant

One of my more popular specialty tours has always been my Machane Yehuda tasting tour. And lately, following all of the posts I’ve written about the shuk, and the popular reception of my map of every stand in the market, these tours have become even more popular.

Still, a lot of people ask me, “So what do we do on a tour of Machane Yehuda together?” To answer that, I figured I should write a brief post to describe my tours there, and give you a taste (pun intended) of what is in store for anyone who joins me on a shuk tour. If after reading this, you are feeling hungry to join such a tour, please contact me to schedule one!

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All You Want to Know About Machane Yehuda – Part 7: What’s In the Shuk?

Fruits for sale in Shuk Machane Yehuda

A colorful array of fresh, seasonal produce from Machane Yehuda Market

Click Here for Part 6 of “All You Want to Know About Machane Yehuda”

Now that you’ve all seen my map of every shop in Machane Yehuda Market, it is time for me to use that map to highlight all of the wonderful, the surprising, the delicious and the downright strange things that you can find in the shuk. Some of these are in response to requests I got for where certain things can be found. Others are things that I know are important, based on the number of times I have guided tours through the market. And some of them are simply my personal favorites, on a non-scientific level!

For starters, let me say that in my opinion, anyone who tells you they know the best place to find anything, is full of… last week’s leftover Machane Yehuda produce! People love to claim that they know the best chummus, fish store, falafel or butcher. As if there were some kind of objective “best.” Sorry folks, their ain’t. What I will tell you in this post is which places are some of my faves, from a purely subjective angle. Sometimes I think the quality is the best. Other times a stand has the best prices or selection. And sometimes, I prefer one place simply because the proprietors are nice people.

You don’t have to agree with me. I’m very opinionated, but that comes with the shuk being my “second home.” But I encourage you to wander around, try many places, and form your own opinions!

All places listed below refer to section numbers on the map I posted last week (and linked to above).

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All You Want to Know About Machane Yehuda – Part 6: THE Map

A map of every store in shuk Machane Yehuda

A section of my new, detailed map of Machane Yehuda Market

Click Here for Part 5 of “All You Want to Know About Machane Yehuda”

Though not massive in size like Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, Machane Yehuda Market can still be somewhat confusing to the casual visitor. It’s not as if you will get lost and not be able to find your way out, so if you just want to wander and take in the atmosphere of the shuk, there is no problem. But if you go there looking for something specific, you may find it somewhat challenging.

To that end, I have produced a true labor of love: the most comprehensive, up-to-date map of every stand in Machane Yehuda Market.

There are other maps of the shuk available, both online and printed, that have attempted to highlight some or all of the stores. The problem with them, however, is that things change in the shuk on a frequent basis. For example, at the time that I am writing this post, two stores have recently changed, and there are currently three more doing construction work to change to something new. (I have actually included the new places on the map, even though they have yet to officially open.)

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Jerusalem Walking Tours for Sukkot

What's the connection between Bob Marley and this famous house in Rehavia? Come to the tour on October 13th to find out!

What’s the connection between Bob Marley and this famous house in Rehavia? Come to the tour on October 13th to find out!

It is about time that I brought back my “Jerusalem: Meet Jerusalem” walking tour series. And while I am nearing completion on a few new ones that I hope to publicize and guide over the next few months, I want to reprise the first three I did.

What better time to do that than when many of you have vacation: Chol HaMoed Sukkot.

So, if you missed any of the three tours previously, and/or you are just visiting for the holiday and are looking for something to do, these interesting tours are for you.

I’ll help you learn more about this awesome city in a few short hours!

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My Tour at Batim MiBifnim This Week

Collage Mt. Zion

The Many Faces of Christian Mount Zion

I’ve written here in the past about the always popular and equally awesome Batim MiBifnim event in Jerusalem. Though the name literally means “Houses from Within” or “Open Houses,” the annual event features so much more than just a peak into private homes. Numerous private institutions and historical buildings also open their doors to the public, and a number of theme-focused walking tours are also included.

At this year’s event, scheduled for later this week on Thursday to Saturday, I am proud to be giving a tour (twice) on Mount Zion, outside the Old City walls. For the second year in a row, the JCJCR – Jerusalem Council for Jewish-Christian Relations is co-hosting “A Window to Mt. Zion” — a series of tours and lectures focusing on the various religious communities who call the area home. My tour will be the only one in English, along with a few of the lectures as well.

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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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