Machane Yehuda Market

Avital Segal and Yael Kahn



The reason we chose Machane Yehuda as our Bagrut project is because we have always liked going to shop there and found it fascinating how one place can attract so many people and be one of the most popular attractions in all of Jerusalem. We wanted to discover the secret of this unique market because we found it an interesting and exciting place to shop and ‘hang out’. We also wanted to understand the difference between it and other markets in Israel and why shopping at the Shuk’s stalls is so different than doing so at regular stores and malls. All these questions made us curious to learn all about Machane Yehuda, and therefore we decided to make this very place our project.

Research question

What is Machane Yehuda, and what attracts people from many places to visit and shop there?

What is the history of Machane Yehuda?
How does Machane Yehuda compare to other markets?
What attracts people to come to Machane Yehuda?

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History of Machane Yehuda

Machane Yehuda is the largest and busiest outdoor market in all of Israel. It is located in Jerusalem on Yaffo Street. It was established as a neighborhood in 1887, but only became an official market in 1928. The market is known for its variety of colorful stalls, cheap prices and is visited by people from all over the world. Many people like to shop there for the friendly atmosphere and rich bounty.

The Machane Yehuda neighborhood (which later gave its name to the market) was created primarily by three men: Yaacov Protiger, a bank manager and a former missionary, Shalom Konstrom Blecher, a known metal worker, and Yosef Navon (the uncle of Yitzchak Navon, Israel’s former president) who laid the railway down Yaffo Street. They named the market street after Navon’s brother, Yehuda Navon , who passed away from old age, around the same time.

Machane Yehuda contains hundreds of stands and shops that provide shoppers with all their needs. These include vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, baked goods, spices, candy, eggs, cheeses, household appliances and more accessories. The market has a variety of colors , sounds and smells.

Only in the past 10 years has the market became modern, with clean paved streets and an awning for the rainy days. Once there was cobblestone road, and a really big mess when it rained, and only lately has it became more up to date.

During the period of the Intifada (2000- 2004) the market was the scene of many terror attacks, and business slowed down for the whole market. All through the difficulties and danger, shoppers continued to visit and shop regularly. The market is now completely sealed off and guards check everyone entering, in order to make sure everyone has a safe shopping experience. As a result, shuk Machane Yehuda is crowded again and busy with happy shoppers.

How does Machane Yehuda compare to other kinds of markets?

Around the world, there are many different kinds of markets. The traditional marketplace takes place in the city square, where merchants set up their stalls and buyers browse through their merchandise. This kind of market is very old, and very few are still in operation around the world.
In the United States there are many farmers' markets, which are markets held outdoors, where farmers can sell their produce to the public. A notable farmers' market is the Pike Place Market, located in Seattle, Washington. The Pike Place Market is a place for small businesses, and is a popular tourist destination. The Market has many varieties of shops and stands; antique dealers, comic book sellers, craft stalls, produce stands, and its' most famous attraction, Pike Place Fish, where employees throw fish to each other, rather than just passing them by hand.
In Europe, especially in France, there are street markets. A street market is an outdoor market, usually held in a marketplace, and is often held only on particular days of the week. A very famous street market is the Camden Market, in London. This market is open from Friday through Sunday. One can find craft stalls, bookstalls, clothing stalls, and even second hand clothing and jewelry stalls.
One of Israel's most popular tourist attraction, Machane Yehuda, is an open air market. An open air market is a public marketplace where food and merchandise is sold. Machane Yehuda, otherwise known as "the Shuk", started out many years ago, when merchants would come with their wagons and sell their merchandise from their carts. Now, the market has grown, and even has an indoor part. Recently, "the Shuk" was able to get tiled floors instead of the cobblestone flooring, and has become a lot cleaner.
One can find everything at "the Shuk": from fruits and vegetables to meats, from baked goods to household items, from cheeses to nuts, from toiletries to Judaica items. There is nothing one won't find in Machane Yehuda.
One will also find all kinds of people at "the Shuk": Jews, Arabs, Israelis, Americans, rich people, poor people. educated people and illeterate people. What's so nice about "the Shuk", is that all these people put aside their differences for a few minutes, and come to shop at "the Shuk".

What is it that attracts people from all over?

One of the most interesting questions that came up during our research on Machane Yehuda, was what is it in Machane Yehuda that attracts so many different people from all over?
To answer that question, we went to Machane Yehuda itself and asked many vendors and shoppers what attracts them to Machane Yehuda, and what is it that is so special about it.
"I love the beauty of the market- the smells, the fresh fish, the people are also very pleasant", says a fish salesman.
A Judiaca shopkeeper claims that what attracts people to Machane Yehuda is the"unique Jewish identity, and the middle-eastern specialty you can't find anywhere else. Machane Yehuda is the 'cream of the crop'."
A friendly spice seller says "the atmosphere of the shuk, the beautiful people, the size of the market, the bounty, and the cheap prices- all together attract the many people to Machane Yehuda. There is no place in the world like the shuk".
A small flower shop owner explains that in his opinion "the shoppers and sellers, the variety and the freedom attract people to the market".
A baker claims that their rogaluch attract all the shoppers to the shuk.
Some of the responses that we got from the people passing by in the shuk:
"The sites and the smells", "The food is amazing, the quality is tops and the atmosphere, it's indescribeable!", "The merchants are friendly and helpful","There is no place like Machane Yehuda to get you into the Israeli spirit".
A review on Macahne Yehuda from the Jerusalem site writes; "The marketplace with it's enticing smells and packed with the crowds of shoppers is a celebration for all the senses: it's colors, it's picturesque characters, and the cries of the vendors that envelop us as we walk past the stands and examine the abundance of foods they offer." What could describe the shuk better than this?
What we saw that left the biggest impact on us was the lively, bubbly atmosphere of the shuk. With it's variety of people and products, it's enticing smells, the rich, colorful sights, the friendliness of the sellers, and the shoppers, make Machane Yehuda THE SHUK, and that is why it attracts so many people.



While writing our Bagrut project we researched the history, reasons for attractions, and special atmosphere of the Machane Yehuda market.

Machane Yehuda was established 79 years ago to answer the needs of the Jerusalemites. Since then it has changed over the years from a dirty old fashioned market into a modern up-beat shopping place where everyone can find what they are looking for.

We wanted to understand why Machane Yehuda attracts so many different people, and why this particular market is so special. To answer these questions properly we went to visit the shuk ourselves and asked people (shoppers and sellers) what makes them come here. We received many interesting answers, but the main answer was the good, cheap variety of foods, and the lively atmosphere of the market. It appears that most shoppers love to shop there and will only shop there for these very reasons.

We also compared the Machane Yehuda market to other markets throughout the world and found the differences and similarities, and this helped us see the specialness of Machane Yehuda and why so many people like to shop there.

We learned about the transformation that the market has had over the years, and the differences between then and now. We learned how one place can attract many people, who put aside their differences, to shop in this special market.


A movie of the Shuk's atmosphere:

A slideshow we made of the Shuk:

Link to the Jerusalem site:


Jerusalem Site, 13.12.06, |

Merchants in the Shuk, Personal interview. Jerusalem, 12.12.06

Shoppers in the Shuk, Personal Interview. Jerusalem, 12.12.06

The Jewish Agency for Israel, 13.12.06, <>

Wikipedia-The Free Encyclopedia, 17.12.06, <>

Yahoo!Travel, 13.12.06, <;_ylc=X3oDMTE3N2phcW1vBF9TAzI3NjY2NzkEX3MDOTY5NTUzMjUEc2VjA3NyBHNsawN0aXRsZQ-->