Abigail Klein Leichman
August 16, 2023

When Massimo Manetti, president of the 150-year-old Central Market in Florence, approached Machane Yehuda Merchants Association President Tali Friedman about establishing an International Markets Association, she was not only interested but agreed to head it.

After all, in addition to her local duties, she also heads a union of 12 Israeli outdoor markets and therefore brings a lot of experience to the table.

The two had conversations for the past two years. They finally met when Manetti came to Jerusalem in July with market heads from Barcelona, London, Berlin, Kyoto, Mexico City and Tbilisi. He and Friedman also formed an alliance that they hope will be mutually beneficial.

“On the occasion of the 100th birthday of the Machane Yehuda Market, we signed an agreement which strengthens the bond of friendship and mutual interest between the Central Market and the historic Israeli market,” Manetti tells ISRAEL21c through translator Gianluca Foa.

“It is a commitment to develop mutual knowledge of the characteristics and problems common to markets full of history and traditions in contemporary commerce,” he says.

Jerusalem and Florence outdoor markets join hands
Central Market President Massimo Manetti and Machane Yehuda Market Merchants Association President Tali Friedman at the signing of an agreement to strengthen bonds between their markets, July 2023 in Jerusalem. Photo by Dor Pazuelo

“The common theme is how it is possible to maintain the characteristics that have made our markets famous throughout the world with the change in purchasing habits and the many distribution channels available today for consumers in different countries,” Manetti says.

Machane Yehuda Market celebrates centennial at a crossroads
This market stall in Machane Yehuda’s Agas (Pear) Street got a centennial facelift with portraits of the original house’s owners, Bachora and Meir Banai. Photo by Solomon Souza

Walking through Machane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem with Tali Friedman, head of its merchant’s association, is a slow progression. Vendors want to say shalom, register a complaint, give her a hug.

“What a good heart you have!” exclaims Aliza, the grandmotherly owner of one of the myriad fresh produce stalls, as Friedman embraces her.

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“Together we will look for the way to maintain a balance between trade in typical food products of the area and a tourism that pushes towards the standardization of consumption.”

Manetti says he and Friedman firmly believe that maintaining the traditional aspects of their markets will ensure their continuity. He expressed his wish that joint projects could even lead to UNESCO recognition for their historic markets.

100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
British army and police raid in the Machane Yehuda Market sometime between 1934 and 1939. Photo courtesy of the G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection, US Library of Congress

A market, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, is “a meeting together of people for the purpose of trade.” And the Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem most certainly fits that definition.

Not only is it unrivalled for fresh produce, delicacies of all kinds and even coffee, drinks and restaurants, but above all it is a meeting place for the wonderful and diverse people living in the city (not to mention tourists and yuppie visitors from Tel Aviv).

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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