Taking the Shuk to the Next Level

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!

One simple thing was diversifying my purchases there. I’ve always been amazed at some of the odder stands in the market. I love the knife-sharpener in the Georgian Market, for example, and though I don’t need any cutlery sharpened at the moment, I do hope to use his services some time in the future. But I did recently start getting my hair cut at the barber in Machane Yehuda. There is one in the market itself, and another one just outside of the market on HaEshkol St. And while my friend Dave tells me I should go to the latter, since he cut Menachem Begin‘s hair, I say that Begin wasn’t so well known for his hair, so I’ll keep going to the guy inside the market!

Do I really need a haircut from the barber who cut this guy’s hair?

I also needed a new watch, so I entered one of the tiniest stores in the entire shuk, a literal hole in the wall next to the entrance into the Georgian Market. Like my barber, the proprietor of the watch store has been selling in the market for around 40 years! Frequenting these stores is like participating in the continuity of Jerusalem life.

Additionally, many people know how the latest change to really affect the shuk is the growth of nightlife there with bars and late-night eateries sometimes operating all night. Some have complained, thinking it has gone too far and is changing the “traditional” nature of the shuk. There was even a plan advanced to try to combat these changes by freezing things with the status quo. I disagree, noting that firstly the very nature of the shuk is to constantly change, and secondly that this most recent change came about by addition, not replacement. I wrote this (along with other points against the plan), defending the shuk in this OpEd in the Jerusalem Post.

But I also am about to begin contributing to the nightlife in the market. Some of you may know that I have a side hobby performing stand-up comedy. About a year ago, I began organizing approximately monthly shows of English-language stand-up here in Jerusalem. Well, later this month (on Dec. 21st), we’ll be hosting a comedy show in the brand-new back room of the Beer Bazaar. After lots of music and dance performances, lectures and discussions, and even spoken word nights in the market, I believe this will be the first ever stand-up comedy show in the shuk. And to celebrate, this show only will be with no cover charge!

Finally, though, I’d like to get back to the first thing I mentioned — the tools I’ve created to help improve people’s experience in the shuk. I have a few more ideas of how to continue to expand that, but first, I’d love to hear from you. If you’d be willing, I’d love it if you responded to a very short questionnaire (below) about the shuk tools I have created. Hopefully it will lead to lots more good stuff, and an opportunity to continue raising the level of the shuk and all of our relationships with it!

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