Taglit-Birthright Israel: Mayanot 103 had a great experience friday afternoon at the shuk (the Machneh Yehuda market) in Jerusalem. We were dropped off right outside and were led to the entrance of the shuk by Lisa, our tour guide, giving us insight on what happens regularly here. Before Shabbat, the shuk is at its prime with the most amount of people coming to visit and buy what they need in preparation for Shabbat.
Walking in and seeing the hustle and bustle of everyone screaming to get better prices on their fruits and baked goods was overwhelming at first. But we all quickly learned to stick close and politely push our way through the heavy crowds of people. The shuk consists of two streets parallel to one another, the difference being one is covered with canopies. Connecting the two streets are small side streets with even more vendors. Each vendor has its own product they are selling. In the street of the shuk there were carts from vendors bringing in new goods to sell and they were quite pushy trying to get through and they did not care if they ran into you so you had to make sure to stay alert and aware of the carts and drying racks going through the middle.
There were vendors that had a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to buy as well as an assortment of different nuts. There were bakeries with fresh rugullas and challah and even some that were selling T-shirts primarily for the tourists. In addition, there were cheese, seafood, and meat vendors selling to all different kinds of people. You could find so many different and fresh foods and everything looked so delicious. It was hard to not buy everything! From the cups of pomegranate seeds, bright red strawberries, and baked goods still hot from the oven, the aroma in the air made the time there that much better.
There was a wide range of consumers in the market from Orthodox Jews to secular Jews. It’s amazing how busy and rushed everyone is before Shabbat starts and then within hours it’s silent all throughout the city. We had about two hours to walk through and take in the sights as well as find lunch before heading back to our meeting place.
Seeing the traditions that happen on a weekly basis each Friday afternoon was quite enjoyable. We were able to get a feel on how Israelis prepare for Shabbat as well as how vendors prepare for the rush of crowds to enter both streets if the shuck. It was great to be a part of an authentic Jerusalem experience and get the feel of a Friday afternoon in Jerusalem. Our group really seemed to enjoy this part of our trip and we were all glad to have gone at the busiest time despite the large crowds of people that we had to weave in and out of.