Feeling the Holiday spirit at Mahane Yehuda

Hustle and bustle at Jerusalem's main market as thousands flock to do last-minute shopping in time for Rosh Hashana.

Other Jaffa Road residents hope to reproduce shuk's success. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Other Jaffa Road residents hope to reproduce shuk's success.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
With just hours to go until Rosh Hashana, excitement and urgency were in the air at Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market, as crowds scurried to get last-minute supplies. With shops closed until Saturday evening, most visitors to the market were focused on stocking up but there were those simply there to soak up the frenetic, vibrant, old-world market atmosphere.
Buskers, musicians, beggars and tourists could be found in the open-air section with stalls displaying mouthwatering holiday produce including seasonal pomegranates, fresh dates and an assortment of honeys. One of the fresh juices stands made up a special mixed juice that includes all of the Rosh Hashana simanims (significant omens) and fish stores sold countless fish heads.
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Commercial chains added to the festivities with Aroma’s branded new year’s chocolates and Re-bar’s pomegranate juice, yogurt and iced drink.
Shop owners took advantage of this busy time. “We easily sell between two and three tonnes of fish daily,” says Benjamin Sellouk of the respected fish shop, David Dagim. “We’ve been open longer hours and our orders double at least. We bring in special fish such as locus, red mullet and of course carp, used to make gefilte fish and popular with both Ashkenazim and Moroccans. We make sure we have enough fish heads.”
According to Benjamin, the preceding days were even busier as people came after work to get food to prepare for the holiday meals.
Located in the center of town, Mahane Yehuda attracts a diverse bunch of shoppers – locals, tourists, religious, secular, rich, poor, young and old. The shuk has become a one-stop shop with consumers able to buy everything they need for the holidays, including clothes, prayer items and non-perishables. As part of the shuk’s re-generation, trendy new shops and restaurants provide a calm vantage point to watch the activities.
“The shuk offers a way to experience the holidays through the senses,” says  a young anglo shopper. “You get to see, taste, touch, hear, feel, smell and breathe the sweetness of the festival of Rosh Hashana”.
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