The “Shuk” in Kiryat Shmona

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Every Thursday we have a Shuk (open-air market) here in Kiryat Shmona. The term “shuk” translates into “market”. My husband prefers to buy his food at the supermarket where it is cleaner and the store is odorless. He says he doesn’t like to buy food that everyone had touched before.

I love to look for bargains at the Shuk where many things are cheaper. I love the atmosphere. A Hebrew word that describes it best is “balagan”. It simply means messy, chaotic, and can be used to describe anything, from my hair in the morning to the current state of the Middle Eastern peace process. – The Shuk is at the same time crowdy, noisy, boisterous and colorful.

The Shuk has a large number of small vendors who operate from open stalls. They offer all sorts of clothing and house wares, shoes, and of course also produce. Kiryat Shmona’s covered outdoor market bursts with fruit and vegetable stands, bags of spices: paprika, chili pepper, and curry…, baskets of roasted pecans, dried apricots, and dates, many different sorts of olives, and a few scattered bread and pastry stalls, selling crusty breads and phyllo-wrapped treats. This is the place for treats such as freshly baked pita and honey and plump dried berries.

The stalls function a little like the Kiddush table at Shul, with grandmothers and youngsters elbowing each other out of the way to edge themselves closer to the best goods. – I have learned that you need to “push” your way through to the vendor if you want anything.

The best way to enjoy the Shuk is to simply wander its alleys, look all around, touch, smell and taste the produce. I can not only touch the produce, squeeze it, but in some cases even taste it. Most importantly, it is usually reasonably priced and fresh. My senses are accosted with the brilliant colors of the fruit and vegetables, gifts and haberdashery. The mixture of aromas of spices and baked goods enhance that exotic sensation, and the sounds of merchants shouting their bargains, and buyers haggling about prices, freshness and flavor, is almost musical.

Yet, in spite of all the busyness, people are in almost a leisurely mood as they casually chat, sip coffee, and greet the passersby they recognize. – But let me warn you, watch out for the banana peels, broken eggs, and fruit pits underfoot!

A Shuk is in a way a picture of Israel, a colorful and vibrant mixture of people. A mix of people who came from many nations to gather and join together. It’s a blend of old and young, rich and poor, well educated and simple, religious and secular. It’s a place where one glance shows you a bounty of the G-d-given harvest of every imaginable flavor, aroma, color and texture.

The biggest impression I get from the “Shuk” is that it is thriving and bustling. If you want to experience the sounds of a shuk, click on the link below:

Shuk in Jerusalem


Shalom from Israel – Lilo

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