Monday, July 20, 2009


The Shuk!

Tuesday is shuk day in Netivot. In Hebrew, shuk means “marketplace.” For hundreds of years, Jews from all over the world have vended and shopped in marketplaces. Merchants would travel by ship to sell their spices, fine perfume, material etc. My ancestors going back to the early 1800’s on my father’s a”h side, traveled by ship from Spain to Romania, where they eventually settled, selling all their wares along the way.

I remember when I was a little girl, my mother a”h taking me to Rachel Market in Montreal. The shochet [ritual slaughter] had a stand in the shuk. I will never forget the sounds of the chickens squawking as they were waiting to be slaughtered.

Once a week in our city, merchants and farmers set up their wares and fruits and vegetables in the open air market. You can buy almost anything in the shuk.

Our market is on a large piece of land in the industrial area. Shopper’s crowd onto the bus with their shopping wagons and hand held baskets. Young mothers with babies in carriages and a toddler or two trailing behind are a common sight. Everyone is going to the shuk to look for bargains. And if you are patient and have the time to really look carefully, you will find the bargains.

And so last Tuesday, along with all the other shoppers, I shlepped my large shopping wagon onto the bus for the short ten minute ride to the Shuk.

The traffic around the entrance to the shuk was crazy. The bus driver was honking his horn as he wanted to pass, early shoppers were loading up the trunks of taxis, a vender was unloading his truck of dresses and hanging them on a rack and people were just mulling around. This was only 9:30 in the morning.

The shuk is a very interesting and entertaining place to shop. I stopped to ask one vendor how much his melons’ were and he told me 3.50nis. As I walked away, I had already seen it for 2.50nis, the vendor called me back “gaverette, gaverette” [literally Mrs.] “3 shekels, tov [good]?” I shook my head no.

The moshavim and kibbutzim in the area have a bus that takes it’s residents for an “outing” to the shuk. The older women love to meet and smooze. For many, it’s their only time away from home.

In Israel, most cities have a shuk day. The famous Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem and Carmel market in Tel Aviv are a must stop for every tourist.

No matter if you are a native or a tourist, if you have never shopped in the shuk, you owe yourself the experience.

Happy shopping!

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