Jerusalem’s Shuk Mahane Yehuda





Perhaps one of the best places I’ve been on assignment is Jerusalem. The history alone is enough to fill you with awe; so many religious historical moments and markers lie within the walls of the Old City.  It’s a place of deep-rooted conflicts and culture clashes. A true mixing of ethnicities. And amidst all of this history, religion and politics springs an amazing culture of food.

There is no better example of this than Mehane Yehuda market, in West Jerusalem. It’s Israel’s largest market – and, according to locals, it’s also the most frequently suicide-bombed market in the world. The market, called the “shuk” , is a place where Jews, Muslims and Christians stand elbow-to-elbow as they maul over produce, shop for freshly-baked marizipan rugalach, buy crispy, golden fried falafel or nosh on the creamiest hummus you’ll ever eat.  Leave it to the geography of food to forget our differences, throw out  the past, diffuse heated issues and bring us together. It’s an incredible experience, one that leaves an impression for a long time.

Below is my visual story on the market that I photographed for Saveur Magazine, published in the November 2009 issue.








Filed under assignments, food culture, food history, International Assignments, Isreal, Jerusalem, markets, Middle East, street food, travel

43 Responses to Jerusalem’s Shuk Mahane Yehuda

  1. Stunning images! I can’t wait to pick up the Saveur issue. You capture life with such authenticity Penny… I need to make it to Jerusalem one day to experience this for myself.

  2. thecosmiccowgirl

    wow–what a leap of faith for these people (the merchants AND the shoppers) to show up to market everyday considering the potential for violence. really puts things in perspective–all we really have to worry about is a parking spot close to the market or whether they’ve run out of our favorite cheese.

    on a side note, the hummus looks so creamy and smooth–am lovin’ the idea of whole garbanzos as a garnish for textural effect!

  3. Wow. Just wow. Gorgeous, gorgeous shots.

    And now I am hungry.

  4. jack39

    wow–what a leap of faith for these people (the merchants AND the shoppers) to show up to market everyday considering the potential for violence.

    Most of the time it is no more dangerous than going shopping in any big city. You go get what you need and just go about your business like any other time or day.

  5. I really feel I wish to write the words and recipes of these photos…I actually smell home looking at them
    Thanks, Toda!

  6. The Old City is my favorite part of Jerusalem. I went in 2006 and since then; I dream of going back!

  7. beautiful pics! Good eye!

  8. great photos – really feeling of atmosphere
    just remind me my photos from Old Acco shuk

  9. Beautiful. Just beautiful. I felt like I was on the street with them – smelling the aroma and hearing the market noise.

  10. I was right there in March. You captured what I couldn’t!

  11. The photos are wonderful. I love that you bring a photojournalist’s sensibility to food shots as well as your stunning portraits. The hummus looks so good I’m tempted to make a batch and crown it with whole garbanzos. Thanks, Penny.

  12. I spent part of the summer studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. These photos bring back memories and make the taste glands salivate. To those people who think it’s brave that people show up to the market, you’ve obviously NEVER been to Jerusalem. Yes, there is tension but not in the way the press depicts it. People live their lives, eat their food, shop, pray, whatever the case…. It is not the West Bank. Thanks to the photographer for posting

  13. alisasaying

    Love this, I am always excited to get glimpses of real human lives, the reality of people going about their every dayness, not war weary or angry or afraid..just living and being and marketing and eating and being…

  14. jillkm

    I love the way you simplified the multicultural diversity. Beautiful pictures and fantastic food indeed. Good work!!

  15. As I told you before I always scout your work in Saveur first and I am sure to devour (pun intended) this issue too! Fantastic work once again. thank you for making me dream and travel through your images!

  16. Hey, these are really nice. Makes me miss the city.

  17. rose

    Hi Penny, gorgeous pictures… I will be there tomorrow– I will think of you

    Thanks for capturing the essence of this Jerusalem landmark…

  18. Israel is a fascinating country and these pictures capture the atmosphere beautifully. Would love to see some more, if you have taken any. The Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food looks fabulous. Thanks!!

  19. tastyeatsathome

    Beautiful photos. I have my November issue, so now I just need to crack it open. You never cease to amaze me with your photography.

  20. “Leave it to the geography of food to forget our differences, throw out the past, diffuse heated issues and bring us together…” Bringing us together seems the most important aspect of coming around the table, and what sharing a little food can do for a family, for a community, a culture. Just by learning about a culture’s food habits, we can learn so much about their histories. What an incredible experience and kudos to you for taking up the journey and photographing it with such heart and care.

  21. Thanks for the peek and the choice choices to shoot and to share with us.

  22. beautiful, penny! i have never been to israel before but i almost ache to go and these pictures made me want to pack my bags and just get there already! i’m looking forward to reading the new saveur and checking out more of your work. it’s at home but i have not yet opened it…nice to have that to look forward to.

  23. umstrum

    beautiful shots! can’t wait to visit jerusalem.. hopefully next december. fingers crossed ;-)

  24. Mia

    I’ve always wanted to go to Israel/Jerusalem but I haven’t had the chance. The pic of the rolled pastry makes me want to get on the next flight: pastry is definitely one of several edible addictions :) Thanks for sharing a little of Jerusalem in your pics. I look forward to going some day.

    Good luck with your travels and if you have a moment, please stop by my blog ( and feel free to give me any helpful tips/ideas/critiques. I’m still learning about blogging and traffic and stuff.


    Thanks again for sharing and hope to see you around soon :)

  25. aviva

    This is awesome I can smell it .This is where we used to shop when I was growing up and no other market that I visited can challenge the uniqueness that it represents .

  26. Hi Penny,
    I had a great time walking around the Shuk and the Old City with you. I can’t wait to see the November issue.

    Hope you are well.

    Michelle Nordell
    aka Baroness Tapuzina

  27. Juan Pueblo

    Me encantaron tus imagenes, sin duda compartimos el mismo gusto..hacer fotografia..
    Mi abuelo nacio en Tanurin Libano….no muy lejos de ahi…. espero un día visitar la tierra de mis antepasados y ver de cerca la Tierra Santa (y hacer fotos), que tanto extraño mi Abuelo Boulus Nahme Harp..
    Recibe un afectuoso abrazo, espero muy pronto tener mi sitio web en wordpress y que podamos compartir imagenes.

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  29. Penny, these images are just stunning. I totally devoured the article 0 it makes me want to hop on a plane to Jerusalem right now! Thanks for sharing some shots that aren’t in the magazine – it’s a great supplement.

  30. jimmynorth

    wow! it looks wonderful! thanks for colourful photos. I always dreamt to visit this beautiful historical city! but never had a chance and opportunity.

  31. Christina

    Wow Pen! These are beautiful! I would do anything for those chocolate filled pastries!

  32. Quite apart from the beautiful photos, it’s great to read your observations: one often has the impression that photogrpahers just ‘tag along’ somehow, but your comments give us a stronger sense of your unique point of view. As a writer who accidentally stumbled upon the pleasures and challenges of photography via my food blog, I find your photos utterly inspiring.

  33. Beautiful beautiful pictures. We went to the old city in spring when the rosemary was in bloom all over the place and walked along the walls. Did u try the date bread from the carts

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  36. Oh, holy cow, I saw the spread in Saveur while in the grocery line, opened it because I’d been to Mahane Yehuda in the very early days of my blog. But seeing the article was before the Seattle workshop with you and I hadn’t even noticed you were the photographer! How cool.

  37. Totally awesome. Am currently cooking and blogging my way thru a Jewish Cookbook. Absolutely gorgeous photos…and what a story they tell. Thank you.

  38. the photos at the magazine were just stunning (especially the “Meorav Yerushalmi” ones). i was so happy to find some of them here! next time you’re around, penny, you should definitely drop by for a tour of “Shuk Ha Carmel” – tel aviv’s most popular open-air market, which is even more photogenic than the mahne yehuda, and is very loud and cheerful as well.

    my favorite of these photos is the hummus, but i am biased :)
    humus is actually very good for you, very easy to whip up in the food processor, and super delicious when done right. all you need is a jar of really good Tahini, a can of chickpeas (dried ones are better, of course – but need to be soaked overnight and gently simmered for hours until they’re very soft) and a splash of lemon juice.

    i like this recipe:

    these photos are so beautiful. thank you!
    maya (from israel)

  39. Beautiful photos, your next stop should be, United Arab Emirates. It’s wonderful here, you would love it. I just ate some Hummus, yesterday. The best way, a little olive oil and bread, can’t beat it. It’s a meal in it’s self.

    Thanks for capturing such gorgeous sites.

  40. Brenda

    We need everyone to help save Mehane Yehuda Market from being destroyed in order to build a shopping mall.

    Sign a Petition, see

    Together we can achieve this for the farmers, the people and us all.

    Thank you.