Jerusalem culinary legend, Mahane Yehuda veteran Ezra Scherpler dead at 86

Scherpler's kitchen mainly served dishes derived from the Kurdish, Iraqi and Turkish cuisines cooked on traditional kerosene stoves.

 Ezra Scherpler serves food in a restaurant called Azura at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem on December 21, 2006 (photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)
Ezra Scherpler serves food in a restaurant called Azura at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem on December 21, 2006
(photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

Ezra Scherpler, the founder of the historic Azura restaurant in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, died on Wednesday aged 86.

Considered one of the pioneers of Jerusalem's urban food scene, Schrepler fed hundreds of thousands of Israelis since he opened the restaurant 70 years ago.

Scherpler made aliyah from Turkey with his family and initially began working as a dishwasher in a Mahane Yehuda restaurant where he honed his craft before opening Azura in 1952.

The restaurant, which moved to its current location some three decades after its establishment, has remained an exemplar of traditional family cooking.

 Entrance to the Azura restaurant, in the center of Jerusalem (credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90) Entrance to the Azura restaurant, in the center of Jerusalem (credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

Scherpler's kitchen mainly served dishes derived from the Kurdish, Iraqi and Turkish cuisines cooked on traditional kerosene stoves, but had also delved into matzah ball soup.

Mahane Yehuda merchants say goodbye to market icon

“Mahane Yehuda is weeping.”

Tali Friedman, head of the Mahane Yehuda Merchants' Committee

"Mahane Yehuda is weeping," Mahane Yehuda Merchants' Committee head Tali Friedman said in a statement shortly following Scherpler's passing. "His dishes greatly influenced chefs in the market and beyond it.

Schrepler was a "significant culinary anchor and a source of pride for all Mahane Yehuda merchants and Jerusalem residents," Friedman added.