Machane Yehuda. The Shuk. Jerusalem’s outdoor market. Call it what you want, but it may very well be my favorite place in Yerushalayim. Since my first trip 5 1/2 months ago with a private tour given to me by my nephew, Chaim, I have been back weekly, sometimes, two or three times a week. He introduced me to all his favorite shops- spices, fruits and vegetables, bread, fish, butcher, and on and on. Some of those stores became my favorites too, but I have come to discover my way around really well. I have become a regular and it’s always so much fun to see a smile on the store owners’ face, because I am back to shop!
The store owners work from the early morning until late at night, greeting each person with a smile, and maybe a treat in their hand- a falafel, cup of tea, sweet strawberry, or pastry. The aromas, the colors, the sounds, it’s always an experience of the senses when walking through. I am lucky enough that the Shuk is only a bus ride away for me and I never go there without my cart- even if I may look like a grandma! I remember going one time without my “bubby cart” or as I like to call it, “The agalat hashuk,” and it was a disaster. My arms were breaking and my hands were bright red. I won’t make that mistake again!
I decided that after almost 6 months of getting to know the store owners, I would feature them in a blog. Enjoy! And come visit and meet them for yourselves!
Iyov and his son, Gal, at HaPeirot Shel Iyov. Iyov’s store has been in the Shuk for 31 years. He makes sure to only sell the best fruits that are in season. He says, “If it’s not in season you won’t see it here.” I think the three greatest things about his store is that he works side by side with his son, his customers are extremely loyal, and he accepts credit card!
Just recently when I was buying the ripest, reddest strawberries at 14 shekel a kilo, he handed me back too much change. As I was returning it, he said, “No, it’s my present to you!” It’s things like that, that make me want to return to the same stores! Thanks Iyov and Gal!
Nissim and Muhammad, at Atliz Mizrachi Chalak. Nissim has been a butcher for the last 16 years since he turned 23. He knows the best meat for every type of dish you want to cook. When I shop in his store, I buy the meat for my soup and my cholent. Muhammad says he became a butcher at the age of 14, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, father, and all his brothers.
I remember one time, when I first started shopping here, Nissim gave me a present- cow feet! I turned it down saying that is something I will never try. He was very disappointed in my lack of trying something new, calling it a delicacy. When I returned home and told this story over, my husband said I should have taken it for our grandmother! The next time, I went back and told him that I made a mistake and should have graciously accepted the gift. He immediately wrapped up the feet and handed them to me. I told him that my grandmother will be thrilled! And she was!
As I was speaking with Nissim, his friend, Tomer, a firefighter- from Givaat Ze’ev (what are the chances?! read https://tovainisrael.wordpress.com/2016/02/14/a-firehouse-is-family/ and in Hebrew https://tovainisrael.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/710/) walked up to the counter. I asked him, “In one word, describe Nissim.” He answered, “He’s my friend, my big brother, my butcher.” I won’t tell him, but that was more than one word! 🙂
(L-R) Itzik, David, and Shlomi Ozarko, at Marzipan Bakery. Everyone loves those gooey, hot, fresh out of the oven chocolate rugelach. Tourists package them up to bring them back to their homes. It is always my Erev Shabbat visit to pick up dessert. My new motto is, “Why bake, when you can Marzipan?” My favorite part of Marzipan is their hospitality. If the rugelach that they know I want to purchase are not ready, they bring me a cup of hot tea while I wait. The guys that work there, Matan and Lior, didn’t want to be photographed, but it’s important to note that they too are so helpful and friendly.
David, the uncle of Itzik, father of Shlomi, says, “I love living in Israel but I’m not going to lie.. I love America. But this is the best place for the Jewish people.” He’s right!
Itzik wants everyone to know that “The most important thing in the world is to keep the Torah..it’s the main thing!”
Shlomi just finished his army service from Chilutz v’Hatzalah B’Gedud Kedem, relief and rescue. Thank you and Kol Hakavod!
Yitzchak HaLevi from Chanut Tut Banana. If you hear someone singing original songs about every fruit he sells, it’s Yitzchak HaLevi. He is the most energetic store owner I’ve ever seen! There is no way you can pass his store without shopping from him. He says, “You want to only buy from me, because I am Neeman (trustworthy). I will tell you what’s good and if something is not good.”
Oshri from Mamtakei Dudu. Oshri is always happy- how can you not be, working in a candy store?! His store is my go-to place each time my children need to bring in a special treat for school. They especially love the jaw breakers!
Oshri’s view on life in the Shuk is as follows: “Life in the Shuk is very interesting. You encounter all sorts of people from all ethnic groups from around the world. You can find almost everything here! Everything here is fresh. Personally, I learn something new here every day. I have many friends that I’ve met here. When you come to the market, it is an experience. The market is full of new places, such as restaurants and coffee shops. Really, Jerusalem is the most fun city to visit because of the special atmosphere. There are warm people and special places like the Kotel, The Machane Yehuda market, and much more!”
I’m looking forward to doing my Purim shopping by his store next week!
Nino Peretz of The Chad Paami Supermarket. Nino has been running his store, largest in the shuk at 200 meters, for the last 13 years. He runs it as a family business-with his wife, and 2 sons, “My handsome boys.” He tells me that he has the best prices in all of Yerushalayim! I make sure to purchase my tins and paper goods from him. I’m in good company apparently, because Nino tells me that this is where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gets everything to fill up his machsan! But I doubt he is walking around with a cart- he must get it delivered!
I’m happy to say that I have friends in important places! Nino is the Menahel of the Vaad of the whole Shuk. Impressive! He is also the Gabai, the Baal Korei, and Chazan of his Beit Knesset in Pisgaat Zeev. He tells me that it is in Nussach Moroccan! That would be another experience for me!
But my all time favorite story about Nino is when he gave me a bracha (blessing) the first time I met him. I was paying at the register, and in Hebrew, he said, “Your life should be as beautiful as you are.” Talk about sweet!
Tomer of HaYazdi. Tomer’s store is bright, colorful and smells amazing! The aroma from all the different spices can give you a head rush! Breathe it in! Tomer is Moroccan from Paris, France. His brother and sister still live in Paris. He’s been in the Shuk for 13 years selling spices from places all over the world, most notably, Morocco and Persia. His sign says that he has the best price in the market!
Adir and Asher from Mamlechet HaChalva. Adir and Asher haven’t been working here for a long time, but they know their way around Halva. Adir tells me that they sell 101 different types of Halva, and 22 kinds of Tehini. They both say that it is so much fun to work here getting people to taste the different flavors. They were successful with me- it was my first time trying Halva! Yum! While they’re working through college, they are looking towards beginning their army service soon. Hatzlacha to them!
Shmuel and Boaz from Maadanei Tzidkiyahu. One family business with two storefronts across from each other. They’ve been in this location since 1967, but they say the store has been around since 1947, before the creation of the State, starting with their grandfather and father, passed down to them and their children. They all reside in Nachlaot in a 3 story building- as one big happy family! Their other brother, Yaron, and his brother-in-law, Yossi, also work there. I always made it a point to ask how Yossi was after hearing about a bicycle accident he had. Baruch Hashem he’s OK! Boaz tells me that he loves the Shuk- It’s filled with interesting people- it’s never boring, and it’s always a Baal Hagaan.
David, Tuvia, Nir, and Assaf of Dovid Dagim. David and his son, Tuvia love working alongside each other. They’ve been in this location for the last 31 years but in business for the last 45 since the Yom Kippur War. David loves working in the Shuk because of all the nice and interesting people. It’s a pleasure for him to see the same people that shopped from him continue to return, now bringing their grandchildren along for the excitement.
Nir, maybe the happiest guy in the shuk, loves life! He’s been working at David Dagim for 5 years. When I asked him what he’d like for me to write, he said, “It’s a beautiful day! I love fish, people, and the weather!” I asked him, “This gorgeous weather, who doesn’t like it?” He responded, “No I love all types of weather!” His smile is infectious!
Assaf, working here for a year, says he was born in Jerusalem, but lived in Boston as a kid. He loves living in Israel again. And when not working here, he is in university studying pottery.
My favorite story from David Dagim, is from my second trip to the Shuk. After my nephew brought me here the first time, he said, this is the only fish store you should buy from! So when I returned the next time, I asked someone- “Can you direct me to Dod HaDagim (Uncle of the Fish)?” The guy that I asked, started laughing- he said, “It’s not Dod, it’s Dovid!” I still think my name for the store is cuter! Sorry David 🙂
Roi, Yosef, Michoel, Moshiko, Oz, and Aryeh of Mizrachi. Roi and Yosef, brothers, sons of Shlomo Mizrachi, love running their store together. The store has been in this location for 30 years. Their father ran it starting in 1970, but their grandfather opened it before the declaration of the State.
They all work hard- with extreme teamwork! It’s an experience just to watch them move throughout, sending fruits and vegetables (and themselves) up and down the elevator as needed. They’re a chevra, tight-nit friends. Roi also employs guys that he knows needs extra parnasa- to help them out. He has guys work here that served in the IDF, as well.
He knows his customers by name. He says life in the Shuk is always interesting- it’s not like sitting in an office. His store also does deliveries- you can order on line and they send the freshest produce to your door!
Two fun personal stories from this store:
1) My children love asparagus for Shabbat. Every time I shop here I check the price- since it’s not quite in season yet, making the price pretty expensive. Each time I come now, I don’t even need to ask- they just call out the price to me! Love being a regular where everyone knows you!
2) It was the coldest week of the winter and for some reason I still felt the need to shop in the Shuk. I was walking through, shivering uncontrollably, when I went to shop at Mizrachi. Michoel must have seen how freezing I was, jumped onto the elevator and brought me a cup of steaming hot tea. He pulled up a chair and told me to sit down and warm up.
I think the main take away message from the Shuk is that everyone that works there, loves working there! And everyone that shops there, loves shopping there. I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to get on a bus with my shopping cart, nerdy and all, and shop there weekly. I love how happy I am when I am there- the smile never leaving my face. If you haven’t yet experienced Machane Yehuda, I advise you to make it a stop on your trip to Israel. It’ll be an experience like none other.
Thanks to all the shop owners for letting me write about you! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing about you! See you next week! 🙂