On my first morning in Jerusalem, we took photos and tested the weather on our balcony.
We had breakfast at the Prima King’s impressive complimentary breakfast buffet. There were salads, vegetables, egg dishes, different types of cheeses, breads, cereals, etc. I have never seen such a huge breakfast selection!
After breakfast we walked to Mea She’arim, which is a Hasidic neighborhood that I had heard resembles an Eastern European shtetl. Having been to Borough Park, Brooklyn many times, I found it less interesting than I was expecting, but there were some nice Judaica stores.
We walked from Mea She’arim to Mahane Yehuda (aka “the Shuk”), which was a visual feast! There were 250+ vendors selling colorful produce, spices, olives, baked goods, etc. I found it interesting that so many vendors can stay in business selling the same products right next to each other, but the market was packed, so I guess there are enough customers to go around (it was also particularly crowded because people were buying food for Shabbat). We bought burakas and a couple prepared salads to have for Shabbat lunch the next day.
After a falafel lunch at Moshiko on Ben Yehuda Street and some more Judaica stores (loved Danny Azoulay!), we visited the Museum of Italian Jewish Art and the attached Italian Synagogue. The museum was in a back alley and required some assistance to find, but I am glad we did not give up. I am very interested in Italian Jewish life and the collection of art, ranging from the Renaissance to present was lovely, though I would have liked if there was more text with the pieces. On a related note, I HIGHLY recommend the book and movie version of “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis,” which is about Italian Jews on the eve of WWII.
We walked to the German Colony, which is my favorite Jerusalem neighborhood because of the beautiful houses. The main street, Emek Refaim is known for trendy coffee shops and we enjoyed coffee on the covered terrace of Caffit. We then walked to the old and upscale neighborhood of Yemin Moshe before heading back to the hotel to change for services.
It was raining, so we attended services at the Great Synagogue, conveniently located next to our hotel. The services were Orthodox and entirely in Hebrew, with an all male choir. I cannot say it was one of my favorite religious experiences, but the synagogue has one of the largest collections of mezuzahs on display in the lobby, and I would recommend visiting for that alone (though maybe not on Shabbat). After services we returned to the hotel for a nice Shabbat dinner, where we had made advanced reservations, since most restaurants in Jerusalem are closed on Shabbat.