The Mehane Yehuda Market is a Jerusalem icon. It was during the Ottoman period that the very first vegetable and fruit stands were set up by hopeful gardeners. Now, decades later, it is a metropolis of daily shoppers. If I could take one small bottle, filled with sights, sounds & smells, home with me, it would be the characteristic ambience of the Mahane Yehuda Market on Jaffa.
It is hardly possible to describe the environment and atmosphere of this hive of activity. But come with me on a sight seeing venture! To visualize the size of the market, know that there are hundreds vendors, their stands laden with vegetables, fruit, nuts, olives, breads, cheeses, halva, fish and more. The passage ways are narrow, at least for the number of people who flock to the market at any time of day, particularly on Friday.
The market has an old world feel to it....open air setting with birds and flies as part of the action. Plastic bags, candy wrappers, cardboard boxes, date & olive pits are part of the picture. It is as though the cleanup crew has not shown up for several days. Venture a little further into the area and you'll begin to see the color....reds, greens, yellows, purples of crisp vegetables and fruits. The mounds of purple and green olives swimming in oil look very tempting. The nuts, of great variety, are asking to be eaten. One can begin to overlook the disorder until one enters the fish area; the smell dispels all ideas of lingering and looking.
It is close to eleven in the morning and the crowd increases. There is much jostling and pushing, perhaps because hunger is coming on as noon approaches. Exclamations of "slicka" (excuse me) come from polite pushers. An elderly lady gets entangled in her own grocery trolley cart and falls. There is a scurry of people to the scene to witness the mishap. The men stand by and observe...some, perhaps, because she is a woman. An ambulance team has the authority to touch her and lift her onto a stretcher. Next, mime actors draw your attention.....they vie for your pocket change along with the beggars. Very obviously, the tourist with the camera is an easy visual target.
Along side of the sights and smells are the ever present sounds. Bold vendors belt out their products in an alluring way, competing with another vendor down the line, also shouting out the best buy. Mingling with human voices you may hear the strains of a violin or the beat of drums. You may also hear a low muttering of "Let's get out of here".
I am reminded of Yeshua being pressed and pushed by the crowds vying for His attention. He found solace in the Galilean mountains.
We exit out into the street to catch the sunshine and enjoy the continuous stride towards home.