This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘shuk’

Passover Is Coming….

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 31, 2015

Passover is coming...

One of the signs of Passover is green garlic in the shuk. I’ve seen piles of garlic, braids of garlic, but I’ve never seen it as it is delivered! Layers of garlic bulbs are stacked in a cube and wrapped with nylon netting. That must be quite a trick!

Photo taken in Mahane Yehuda, while rushing to Nahlaot.


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More Rainy Day Photos in the Old City

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 26, 2014


I wish I could have photographed this man a second before, when he was positioned in front of the electricity box. Unfortunately, someone was in my way (definite disadvantage when you go on a photo walk–everyone wants the same shot). I thought the shot would look better with a sepia tone and hoped it would minimize the white box behind the subject with the graffiti.

Typical souvenir shop in the shuk. I wanted to create an Aladdin’s cave of treasures atmosphere, so I underexposed this image slightly.


Hat display. Again, a lot of competition for the same shot, so you may see this elsewhere.


Man in passageway. I rendered this image in black and white to increase the contrast between the dark arches and the light. Since it was a rainy day, there wasn’t a whole lot of light to work with.


This photo of an alley in the shuk was taken at a low angle. It’s a good idea to wear old clothes if you’re shooting in a muddy environment because sometimes you do have to get down on the ground to get a certain perspective. I liked the contrast of the woman’s orange coat and the gray paving stones, as well as the lines of the ramp stones leading to the subject.


Tower of David photographed from the roof of the Petra Hotel.


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Video: Balabasta 2012

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 22, 2012

Although I love taking photos, video does a better job of capturing music, not too surprisingly. I made a short video of some of the performances we saw that night. It’s a bit tricky recording without something stable like a tripod because of the crowds. That’s why it’s a bit shaky in some frames.

“Balabasta”, the name of the festival, is a play on words. It literally means “Come to the market stall” (“ba la-basta”) but it also sounds like the Yiddish word for “housewife” (balabusta).

I edited the clips with Pinnacle Studio Ultimate. I’m still learning, but I’m starting to get the hang of it. It definitely makes editing a lot faster and provides more control.

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Balabasta 2012 – Cultural Festival in Mahane Yehuda Shuk

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 21, 2012

Balabasta 2012

Butterfly girl on the roof, about 3 stories above the ground.

I’m just taking a break from the Florence photos….

Last Sunday we went to Balabasta, the cultural festival in the Mahane Yehuda shuk in Jerusalem. This will probably be the last Balabasta. The merchants’ association opposed the festival because they have their businesses disrupted and don’t gain very much from the crowds. Tourists don’t buy tomatoes and pita. They take pictures, eat, and drink, so the restaurants and cafes are the ones who benefit. I made a video of some of the musicians and am uploading it to YouTube (I love my new video-editing software, Pinnacle Studio 15!).

Oud (stringed instrument) on the left and darbouka (drum) on the right.

Balabasta 2012

Hanging laundry from one of the balconies.

Balabasta 2012

Woman in flower costume on opposite balcony. Last year the woman dressed in roses was on this balcony.

Balabasta 2012

Players outside the backgammon club. They’re always there.

Balabasta 2012

Artist Shvut Kula creates mosaics from materials of the shuk, mainly beans and seeds.

Balabasta 2012

Balabasta 2012

Balabasta 2012

Klezmer trio in the alley

Balabasta 2012

Chess tournament in the Iraqi shuk

Balabasta 2012

Telling fortunes in the main covered shuk. It was very dark, so this photo wasn’t easy to get.

Balabasta 2012

Aharon Menachem, oud player and singer, performing Kurdish music on the roof.

Balabasta 2012

Na Ya Sangit (I hope I transliterated her name correctly) sings Indian music.

Balabasta 2012

Balabasta 2012

Zither player in a Yemenite ensemble.

Balabasta 2012

Dancers in the very crowded square. At one point the zither player said, “Please dance only if you really know how to dance Yemenite dances. Otherwise it’s too painful for us to watch.” That didn’t seem to discourage the wannabees, though!

Balabasta 2012

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Return to Balabasta

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 27, 2011

Pirhana Iraqi band

OK, now that I’ve got your attention (that is, if you happen to like good-looking young men in tight clothing who can sing in Iraqi Arabic), this is the lead singer of Parhana (not sure how to transliterate the name of the group into English). Imagine about 100 people crammed into a tiny square to watch this band at Balabasta, the Mahane Yehuda cultural festival held on Mondays in July. Despite the heat, quite a few people were dancing. Or balancing beer bottles on their heads.

Parhana (Iraqi band)

Balancing Beer Bottle

They make such clever hearing aids these days…

Man with cherries on his ear

Violin and oud duo inside the shuk:

Oud and Fiddle Duo

When photographing performers I’m never sure whether to post group shots or portraits of individuals. Although group shots show the whole setting, I find that they look like snapshots (or at least the ones I take). Individual portraits have more impact.

We went back to Balabasta for the final night and I was pleasantly surprised to find almost no overlap in performers. We also went later and stayed later than we did last week, but the bands posted at the various stages was different. So if you’re wondering whether, next year, it’s worth going more than once, I would say that it is. Just remember that it’s very crowded, so you might not want to take young kids if they have a tendency to wander off.

Yo’ad Shoshani on bass guitar and Meir Asor on drums:

Meir Asor (drums) and Yo'ad Shoshani (bass)

Yo'ad Shoshani (bass guitar)

Meir Asor

A little boy having his face painted. I was struck by the juxtaposition of a little boy in a big velvet kippah having his face painted by a woman with tattoos and lots of piercings, in a cat costume. They were surrounded by a circle of parents. I had to kneel and take the photo very quickly when two people stepped apart briefly.



Edgo and Salomon playing traditional Ethiopian instruments:

Edgo and Salomon (Ethiopian musicians)

This is a krar, a 5-stringed lyre from Ethiopia and Eritrea, tuned to the pentatonic scale.

Ethiopian musician

This instrument is a masenko or masenqo, a single-stringed, bowed instrument.

Ethiopian musician

The chess tournament continues:

Young chess players

Band on the roof

Mahane Yehuda Street

And the winner of this year’s Miss Pungent Pageant….

Ms Garlic and Peppers

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Balabasta 2011

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 20, 2011

Balabasta 2011

For the second consecutive year, the Jerusalem municipality sponsored a cultural festival, Balabasta, in the Mahane Yehuda shuk. It takes place on Mondays in July, so if you plan to go, next Monday is your last chance! There are bands playing on the roof, performance artists, acrobats, people in costume, people dancing, and the place is packed. There is so much to see, so please forgive me if this post gets a little long.

We went fairly early (around 6:30) because the fast day of 17 Tammuz starts at sundown. Although the fast doesn’t begin until the following morning, my husband thought it would be inappropriate to stay after dark on that particular day. The name Balabasta is a pun on different levels. A “basta” is a market stall, so “balabasta” sounds like “ba’ le-basta” (“Come to the market stall”) and like “balabusta” (Yiddish for housewife, ba’alat ha-bayit).

The band on the roof was a religious band, Acharit haYammim (English site with videos and photos). The open road of the shuk was so crowded that they were very difficult to photograph, especially with the high parapet. These were taken with 135mm zoom lens:

Balabasta 2011

Balabasta 2011

It was very crowded below, with some dancing and others watching and taking pictures.

Balabasta 2011

Balabasta 2011

The guy in the wheelchair with the “Will you marry me” sign is a regular. My officemate saw him last week with a “Will you talk to me” sign. He seemed quite popular!

Balabasta 2011

This boy and his friend were totally absorbed by their phones. The parallelism of their positions caught my eye.

Balabasta 2011

Two women stood on facing balconies, dressed in flowers.

Balabasta 2011

Dancer in a tutu made of “Rami Levy” (discount supermarket) bags:

Balabasta 2011

Balabasta 2011

Balabasta 2011

This woman was performing inside the covered shuk (Etz Chaim), in front of a boutique. My husband thought that maybe we should buy a knife at the kitchen store and set this poor girl free….

Balabasta 2011

Blues band in an alley (going downhill, near the Iraqi shuk):

Balabasta 2011

Chess tournament in the Iraqi shuk:

Balabasta 2011

Balabasta 2011

The break dancers were very difficult to photograph! They move so fast, but the sun was going down so I needed a longer exposure. I was also in a really bad position, stuck behind dancers who were getting ready to move onto the mat, so I didn’t have many clear shots.

Balabasta 2011

This guy with the toilet plungers was hamming it up for me!

Balabasta 2011

Juggler with music, props, and lots of balls.

Balabasta 2011

Balabasta 2011

Balabasta 2011

I wish I could have gotten a better angle of the refraction in the ball in the last shot but I was behind two young girls and the crowd of spectators was tightly packed.

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Photo “Joiner”: Restaurant in the Shuk

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 15, 2010

Restaurant in the shuk

This collage isn’t my own idea. It’s based on David Hockney’s joiners and was an improvised solution to the problem of trying to photograph a restaurant on a narrow street in the shuk with a 50mm prime lens, without standing behind the counter of the spice store opposite. I took several photos separately, without trying to get any continuity in exposure or angle.

When I read about Hockney’s initial experiments, I realised that my motivation was the same, to capture a wide view without a wide-angle lens. If you want to see some of Hockney’s joiners, there is a good selection at For more information, see Time Magazine’s article, Time Recomposed of Shards (because this article is a commentary on an exhibit but has no images, you should have the 5 Magazine article open in an adjacent browser window for reference).

Well-known Hockney quote, from Cameraworks:

“Photography is all right if you don’t mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralysed Cyclops.”

Actually, that quote doesn’t make much sense in isolation. It comes from Lawrence Weschler’s introduction to Cameraworks:

My main argument was that a photograph couldn’t be looked at for a long time. Have you noticed that?” Hockney led me back into the studio and picked up a magazine, thumbing through randomly to an ad, a photograph of a happy family picknicking on a hillside green “See? You can’t look at most photos for more than, say, thirty seconds. It has nothing to do with the subject matter. I first noticed this with erotic photographs, trying to find them lively: you can’t. Life is precisely what they don’t have- or rather, time, lived time. All you can do with most ordinary photographs is stare at them- they stare back, blankly- and presently your concentration begins to fade. They stare you down. I mean, photography is all right if you don’t mind looking at the world form the point of view of a paralysed cyclops- for a split second. But that’s not what it’s like to live in the world, or to convey the experience of living in the world.

Hockney was trying to create a narrative with his joiners. I found that I was doing much the same, albeit unconsciously, when I put together the pieces with Picasa’s collage feature. I wanted to emphasize the ironwork above the door, the warm colours and lighting of the kitchen, and the fish monger next door who sprayed me with cold, fishy water while he was hosing down his stall. Ugh. I was eating at the time. I also wanted to show the restaurant’s sign, although it’s at an angle. If I were to do this again, I would change the angle of some of the shots so that they would convey their meaning more clearly. I put no real thought into taking the actual photos. I only noticed that one could play around with the relative importance/size of the components when I was putting together the puzzle. Interesting for a first experiment!


Detail of ironwork above. The plaque in the star says “1923. Meir Eliyahu Banai.” The shop originally belonged to Meir Eliyahu Banai,  a member of the Banai dynasty, an Israeli family that has produced a large number of singers and actors. A few years ago it was converted into a restaurant called Mitbach haBri’ut.

Mitbach haBri’ut is a kosher, organic, and vegetarian restaurant in the Mahane Yehuda market. The food is mainly lentils/tofu/salad, nicely spiced and well prepared. Menu is limited but portions are large and prices are reasonable. I would definitely go again, and sit indoors or upstairs (yes, there really is an upstairs in this tiny restaurant!) if it’s close to the time when the fishmonger is closing. The restaurant is located at 1 Banai or 4 Agas, just off Pri Etz Haim (the covered shuk). There are two tables outside. On the left of the restaurant is the fishmonger and on the right is the woman whom we used to call the Queen of Vegetables when I was a student. You’ll recognize her when you see her. She sits on a high stool above rows of perfect vegetables. Everything at her stall is orderly and calm, unlike the feeding frenzy that you’ll  see today if you stand in the middle of the shuk and yell, “Tomatoes! Tomatoes! Three shekels a kilo!!” (The recent heat wave drove up the price of tomatoes to 10-15 NIS/kg.)

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Tomato and Gruyere Quiche

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 10, 2009

I made this quiche this morning with the plum tomatoes and Gruyere cheese that I bought yesterday at Basher’s Fromagerie, in Mahane Yehuda. The Gruyere was expensive that I used only 50 gms (a little less than 2 ounces) but I can smell it through the whole house. In fact, after I grated the cheese, I had to cover it because the smell was making me so hungry. The original plan was a tomato and Gruyere tart, but at the last minute I converted it into a quiche because I decided I wanted something slightly more substantial for a Shabbat lunch. My measurements below are a little quirky because I don’t use a recipe for my pastry. I just use the 1:2 ratio (by weight) of butter to flour and butter is sold in 100 and 200 gm blocks in Israel.

Note: If you’re substituting a cheese of lower quality or (gasp!) Israeli “yellow” cheese, you will probably need a lot more to get any flavour at all.

Tomato and Gruyere Quiche
Yield: 11″ quiche

200 gm flour
1 tsp salt
100 gm butter, chilled and cut into pieces
5-6 tbs ice water

1 tbs mustard ancien (Dijon with seeds)
6 plum tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
50 gm Gruyere cheese, finely grated
salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).

Combine the flour and salt. Cut the chilled butter pieces into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives. Sprinkle just enough water and toss with a fork until the dough barely holds together. Press into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 2 hours.

Roll pastry on a floured board until it is a 13″ round. Carefully fit it into an 11-inch quiche pan. Prick all over with a fork, cover with foil, weight with beans, and bake blind for 12 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350 F (180 C).

Cool pastry shell slightly. Spread mustard thinly on base. Fill shell with single layer of plum tomato slices. Season with salt and pepper. Beat eggs with milk and pour over the tomato slices into the shell. Sprinkle Gruyere cheese on top. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden. Cool in dish on rack.

Update (Jan 2012): Basher’s has no kosher certification. 😦 See Jerusalem Kosher News for details.

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Teller’s Bakery in Mahane Yehuda

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 9, 2009

Who doesn’t like fresh baked bread? I visited Teller’s Bakery in the Mahane Yehuda market, Jerusalem, this morning with two co-workers, one of whom is a neighbour of the owner, Avishai Teller. The bakery is not an old family business — Avishai took a course and then opened his bakery a few years ago on Agrippas street. His sourdough and baguettes are wonderful.

Bakery front


Bakery owner Avishai Teller slashing baguettes:
Avishai Teller slashing baguettes

A conveyor belt with adjustable height, to accommodate the different oven compartments, moves the raw baguettes into the oven. I assume that they are removed with a peel. Interestingly, baguettes were not proofed after being shaped. Avishai shaped the loaves, slashed them, and put them into the oven. (If you click on the photo and view the large version or original, you can see that he’s holding the lame (bread-slashing tool) in his teeth.)

Conveyor belt moves the raw baguettes into the oven


In the main room of the bakery, workers cut a huge mass of dough into pieces, weigh them, and shape them very quickly into round loaves. This particular batch is “Health Bread.” Working with bread while listening to the Beatles doesn’t seem like a bad way to make a living.

Cutting and shaping loaves

At one point I photographed the mashgiach (kashrut supervisor, who makes sure that the baked goods are kosher). He came over to us and asked, “Are you Jews? Do you observe the Sabbath?” Then he turned to me and said, “Would you like to perform the mitzvah of separating challah? It’s an important mitzvah for women.” So I dipped my hand in flour and grabbed a handful of sticky dough out of the mixer. I almost never perform this mitzvah at home because my oven is too small to hold the minimum quantity of dough required, so the rabbi helped me with the blessing. He told me that many women come to the bakery solely to perform this mitzvah.

Taking challah

Chart indicating when challah was taken and by whom:

Hafrashat Challah chart


In a smaller room, devoted to making the danishes and other pastries, a man was mixing chopped apples, sugar, a little lemon, and cinnamon. He opened the refrigerator and took out a large slab of folded puff pastry, informing us that this dough was 50% butter. Wow. He cut the dough in half and then rolled it back and forth through an electric rolling machine, which works like a pasta machine. Shelves at either end caught the ends of the dough, as the strip became longer and thinner. The finished sheet was about half a centimeter in thickness.

Rolling dough for danishes

The pastry maker cut rolled about half the dough around a huge rolling pin and transferred it to the work surface. He picked up a gadget that looked like an expanding trivets. It was an adjustable dough cutter, which he used to cut the dough into squares.

Cutting dough for danishes

The filling was squirted into the squares from a plastic bag used like a pastry bag.

Filling apple danishes

He folded the pastry squares into plump envelopes at lightning speed.

Shaping danishes

The finished product:


Update: Sept. 25, 2009.

Teller’s kashrut certification is Jerusalem Rabbinate Mehadrin. Yehiel Spiro has posted a copy of the hechsher (kashrut certificate) on his site, Jerusalem Kosher News. I presume that Rabbi Lublin was the man in the photo above.

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