The Mood-Boosting Benefits of the Shuk

I’ll be honest with you, readers. Lately, I haven’t been super stoked about being in Jerusalem. I’ve been feeling sad, isolated, a little lonely, and just very cooped up. I’ve tried hard to get out lots, as I’ve realized sitting around all day in our dreary suburban apartment is a recipe for depression, but I can only travel so far on a bike (and Jerusalem is very, very hilly). Until we find a car to buy, we’re pretty much stuck in Jerusalem (although we do have a pretty awesome vacation coming up).

Part of this malaise is because this city isn’t quite what I expected. But, I still strongly feel that at the end of the our three years here, this stoney town will have won me over, because I know there are fascinating, gorgeous, delicious things all around. It’s just taking some work to find them is all.

Take the massive, bustling, famous Machane Yehuda street market, known to folks here simply as “the shuk.” I’ve been a few times, but have found biking there to be difficult, and the parts I saw on the first few visits seemed to be mostly produce vendors (which is cool, but I prefer to buy my fruits and veg closer to home since I have to bike them home). I was longing for a market that is more interactive (and, perhaps a little more like those in Madrid) with samples, things to eat, prepared foods to take home, restaurants tucked away, that sort of thing. Today I went to the market with someone who has a good deal more shuk experience than I and it turns out the Jerusalem shuk is all those things!

Amazing how good food and a vibrant setting can lift my spirits, because I had a huge grin on my face as I was snapping photos and eating free samples of halva, which is dessert made from sesame paste and displayed in huge blocks. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that today I  ate the best grape leaves, the best baklava, and the best kanefeh of my entire life. Oh, and I found a place called Beer Bazaar where you can sip one of over 100 Israeli beers while people watching, and you’re not going to find a more robust people-watching experience than in the shuk.

Knowing that I am just a bike or cab ride away from an incredibly vibrant, gorgeous, authentic (it’s not just a tourist destination; locals really shop there), and delicious market makes me feel much, much better.

Shabbat shalom,

Em in Jerusalem








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