Friday, January 13, 2012

A Visit to Meah She'arim 75 Years Ago

Meah She'arim market. "Bukharan vegetable vendor with
donkey car" (circa 1935)
The Jerusalem neighborhood of Meah She'arim was one of the first neighborhoods built outside of the Old City walls. 

The name "Meah She'arim" can mean "100 gates" or "100 measures" and is taken from the verse in Genesis (26:12) "And Isaac sowed in that land and he reaped in that year one hundred times [what was estimated], [for] God had blessed him."
Meah She'arim market today

Meah She'arim market (1935)
Meah She'arim was established in 1874 during the same week that the verse from Genesis was read in the synagogue Torah reading. 

In 1890, the neighborhood was home to 800 residents in 200 buildings.  The demand for housing was so great that within three years another 100 homes were built and the population almost doubled.  Adjacent neighborhoods, such as Batei Ungarin and the Bukharan Quarter, were built to handle the burgeoning Jewish population. 

Each neighborhood contained its own marketplace full of stalls and stores.  Not too many years ago, shopkeepers in the Bukharan market were still using their abacus to tally purchases.

Today, however, with the exception of shoppers in Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda market, the shopping habits of Jerusalemites have changed, and supermarket chains now attract more and more consumers.

Meah She'arim. "The chicken killer" (1935)
Meah She'arim. "The fishmonger" (1935)

The transaction in the market (1935)
Meah She'arim bread stalls (1935)
Group of Jews in Meah She'arim (1935)

What's left of the market in the Bukharan Quarter today

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