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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Top 12 Apps For Your Israel Trip (Part 1)

Silhouettes in the Old City of Jerusalem

Don’t get lost in Jerusalem’s Old City. Use the official walking tours app!

For starters, I am currently recovering from shoulder surgery, which is why I haven’t posted in a while. But now, some four weeks into my recovery, and back to typing with both hands, I’ve decided to address some topics I have been wanting to write about for a while.

I love my iPhone. I don’t often buy expensive things, but for me, this has been one of the tools that was most worth the expense. I have come across some great apps that can aid me as I explore this country, and so I wanted to share with you some of the best. I recommend you download them before you visit this country.

Many are apps that will help you on a visit to any country, or even while traveling at home. But some others are specific to Israel and touring here. And while a couple might even be seen as “competition” for me as a professional tour guide, we all know that they can’t possibly compare. So I am including them here anyway for the time you are on your own, or if you are someone who can’t afford to hire a guide.

So, here they are. My Top 12(+) apps for a trip to Israel! These are all available on iPhone, and I don’t know if all are on Android as well. But if not, maybe they can give you the idea to search for a similar app. Best of all, they are all free!

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Jerusalem: A Walk Through Christian History

St. Mark's Church

The apse of St. Mark’s Syriac Church, a small and very old church in Jerusalem’s Old City

Recently, I have been preparing my next Jerusalem: Meet Jerusalem walking tour, which will focus on Christian Jerusalem for Non-Christians. In the process I have come to explore and discover many of Jerusalem’s churches. Obviously, Jerusalem is a very holy city to Christianity, and there are innumerable churches here, many of them within the approximately one square kilometer surrounded by the Old City walls.

But as I began to explore more, and uncovered some of the lesser known churches here, I became endlessly fascinated by the variety of Christian sects. There are tens of different denominations, split into a number of larger branches of Christianity, many of which are fairly unknown to most people — Christians and non-Christians alike! And of those many sects, tons of them have churches in Jerusalem, including a number of those less known denominations.

I began to organize them all for myself, grouping them into related branches and placing them in the sequence of their various splits from each other. By looking at them this way, I could see the very development of Christianity itself, reflected in the distinctive churches in my city. I soon realized that walking through Jerusalem’s Old City is like a walk through a living museum of Christian history.

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Art is Happening Now in Jerusalem

Cutting a limestone block into a sculpture

Russian sculptor Alex Shestakov at work in Jerusalem

Last night, as I wandered the streets of Jerusalem, I unexpectedly came across two awesome art events happening simultaneously in this city. Following the summer’s Jerusalem Season of Culture, these two events are extending the cultural happenings into the fall. I am hoping that they become regular events, added to the already extensive and diverse cultural calendar of this city.

First, I was walking along the Park HaMesilah, the narrow park that about two years ago transformed the old train tracks from a hideous eyesore to a usable (and well-used) recreation and relaxation zone. I was heading to the newly redeveloped Tachana HaRishona (First Station), the old Ottoman-era train station that has been transformed into a lovely shopping, dining and events venue for the entire family. I’d recently discovered some of the newer things added there (as it is still new, there are constantly new places opening there), and was thinking about getting a quick drink at a new beer-garden (of sorts) there.

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Jerusalem, Meet Jerusalem: Rehavia

International Style building in Rehavia, now a branch of Bank Leumi

The house of Dr. Paul Bonem, built in the International style by Leopold Krakauer in 1935

My first two Jerusalem, Meet Jerusalem walking tours focused on the early expansion of Jerusalem outside the walls of the Old City. Thus, I focused first on the first three neighborhoods built outside the walls in the mid 1800s. Then we moved on to the collection of micro-neighborhoods known as Nahalaot, a step towards the New City’s solidification overall.

The third tour in the series focuses on Rehavia, a neighborhood right smack in the heart of Jerusalem. In many ways, Rehavia epitomizes Jerusalem’s modernization. Built in the 1920s and 1930s, Rehavia was planned as a Garden Neighborhood, a reaction to urbanization that was first created in Europe. From its origins and still until today, Rehavia is a neighborhood populated by leaders in politics, culture and academia.

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