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February 24, 2022

Mahane Yehuda

Julien Menichini  CC BY 2.0Experiencing the Shuk
Julien Menichini  CC BY 2.0
Experiencing the Shuk

The Shuk

Ask any Jerusalemite: “Where’s the best place to shop?” and 9 out of 10 will not name a supermarket or mall—they’ll answer, “the shuk.” That’s the local name for the Machane Yehuda Market, located at the western end of Jaffa Road in central Jerusalem.  It’s a 10-minute walk from the Ben Yehuda Pedestrian Mall or the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.

The shuk in Jerusalem is a distant relative of a farmer’s market in the U.S. or Europe.  The shuk has an abundance of produce offered up in a mostly open-air setting.

Exploring Mahane Yehuda

Jerusalem’s lively shuk has dozens of stalls lining two main pedestrian throughways and a jumble of smaller interconnecting alleyways packed with merchants hawking their wares— selling everything from fresh fish to aromatic and exotic spices to gourmet cheeses and dark bottles of local olive oil.

But people don’t just go to the shuk to buy the freshest and best-priced fruit and vegetables—half of the fun is hooking up with friends to sample the fare at one of the many unique cafes or hole-in-the-wall restaurants dotted around the shuk.

Explore the connecting alleys between the open shuk that stretches between Jaffa Road and Agrippas Street and the parallel covered shuk.  Don’t be afraid of getting lost—just head back to one of the two wide thoroughfares and you’ll quickly get your bearings.  In a pinch, ask anyone for Rechov Yafo, and they’ll point you in the direction of that main road graced by the Light Rail.

Sampling at the Shuk

Flavorful Halva at the Mahane Yehuda Market

Julien Menichini  CC BY 2.0
Flavorful Halva

Almost all the shuk eateries are kosher, serving up both delicious home-cooked meat offerings and delectable dairy dishes. The best fish and chips in Israel can be found at a little kiosk at the southern end of the shuk.  Feeling adventurous? Purchase a Machane Yehuda Shuk Bites Ticket and armed with a map and a voucher card, discover the shuk at your own convenience. But be sure to pace yourself since tastings include everything from coffee, candy, cheeses, bread and more!

Mahane Yehuda Produce

As you wander amongst the stalls, notice how the produce is all seasonal—citrus in the winter, pomegranates around Rosh Hashanah time, fresh garlic in the spring, etc. Don’t hesitate to sample some delicate sweet halvah from one of the two halvah merchants offering different flavored cubes of this sesame treat. Some coffee-flavored or cashew halvah packed in a hard plastic container makes a great gift from Israel too.

Spices at the Shuk

Julien Menichini  CC BY 2.0

Shuk Souvenirs

Shopping for souvenirs from the shuk? Alongside the fragrant foods and spices are stalls selling housewares, Judaica items such as knitted kipot, chanukiot, Purim groggers, Seder dishes, challah plates and knives or havdalah items. Shopping for clothes?  At the shuk you’ll find it all: designer all-cotton outfits, cheap funky skirts, shirts, an array of scarves and head-coverings at great prices, and other souvenirs from Israel.

Mahane Yehuda: Did You Know?

  • Best days to visit the shuk: Sunday and Monday are the quietest days; Friday is frenetic, as is any day preceding a Jewish holiday.
  • Best time for bargains: Late in the day (the shuk closes around 7: 30 p.m.) when merchants are anxious to sell down their stock. If you’re buying large quantities of anything, ask for a discount.
  • This is the best place in town to outfit a kitchen if you are looking for disposable dishes or pans.
  • Need to daven? There’s a shul in the shuk: It’s at the southern end (nearer Agrippas Street) on a side alley near the covered shuk—ask anyone for directions to the Etrog Man and you’ll pass the shul on the way.
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