Despite the cold and rain, several hundred people strolled the streets listening to music, shopping for various goods and of course eating pita and hummus. In all there were about 20 booths selling food, clothes, art and more.
Matthias, Dorit and Karin are Berlin residents who have visited Israel on a number of occasions and even seen the real Carmel Market. They all agreed that the food was good but that the market should be bigger and held more often. However, Dorit said that even this small replica was good for Berliners to see, saying, “I think the people here are open, curious to new things.”
A street sign in Berlin for the market (Photo: Will King)
There were some noticeable differences to the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv; the vendors weren’t shouting at the passersby and prices seemed to be at a fixed level, no haggling.
So what did some Israelis have to say about the market? Stavi, originally of Kiryat Ono but now residing in Berlin, said that the market resembled just about any other market in Germany, but with Jewish music and food.
“The security gives you a feeling of being in Israel,” he said, “they don’t even check like this at the airport here.” Still, Stavi agreed that the market was good for the people to Berlin to see and experience.
Richness of Jewish-German culture
Another Israeli, Sivan, said that "they succeeded to bring the idea of the 'shuk' to Berlin; the clothes, food, and everything else you can buy.”
Shuk HaCarmel in Berlin (Photo: Will King)
But the real test was what the locals learned about Israel from the market. Katrin is a Berlin resident who has never been to Israel, although her mother has on one occasion. She said that it was good to see the market in her city, but wished that it were bigger. Katrin said the market gave her “a little picture of the culture, of eating, of music.”
The Jewish Days of Culture festival featured exhibitions at the Berlin Jewish Museum and several synagogues, theatrical performances, films, and concerts by Israeli and German individuals and orchestras.
Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said in a statement that the festival “proves the unique richness of the Jewish-German culture in Berlin.” The event organizers also pointed to the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel as an important theme in the festival.