Erev Shabbat in Israel ... and Jerusalem Carrot Salad

Spectacular view of  Jerusalem from Mt. Scopus

After breakfast Friday morning we hopped onto the tour bus for our trip from the Galilee panhandle in northern Israel to Jerusalem. We stopped first at Mt. Scopus in the northeastern part of Jerusalem. Mt. Scopus has an amazing panoramic view of the Old City, which makes it the perfect location for our group's Shehecheyanu ceremony. Shehecheyanu is a prayer to celebrate special occasions, such as entering Jerusalem for the first time.

Not a flash dance.


After the ceremony, which included prayers and singing, the tour leaders provided wine and challah. Some members of our tour broke out into dance.

For our dining and dancing pleasure, music was provided by a group of street musicians. Israeli street musicians are just like the ones you find in the NYC subway.

Except Israeli street musicians can also blow a mean shofar.

After enjoying the view (and a bit of souvenir shopping), we headed into Jerusalem. 

My view of The Kotel.

Of course no trip to the Old City within Jerusalem is complete without a trip to the The Kotel ... The Western Wall. It's rather impossible to see in this photo, but many of the men (women aren't allowed nearer this section of The Wall) are inserting slips of paper containing personal prayers into The Kotel's crevices.

Gun remained on base this time.

Our Son the Soldier was able to join us there.  Who says prayers don't come true?

Just us and a few bazillion of our closest friends at the Shuk.

Afterwards we headed to the Mahane Yehuda Market (aka the Shuk), a very large and very crowded street on Fridays because, it seems, everyone in Jerusalem is there stocking up for shabbat (sabbath).  About 250 vendors in the Shuk (plus more on adjoining streets), in spaces not much larger than a flea market stall, sell spices, fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, breads, fish, candy, housewares and clothes ... not to mention chotchkes and other souvenirs for tourists to schlep back home. 

Friday night our group was treated to a sumptuous shabbat dinner buffet.  Trays upon trays heaped with meat and veggie dishes, most of which I have no idea what they were, except that they were all delicious.  One of the veggie choices was an outstanding carrot salad. I had to ask a waitperson if she could find out what the spices were.  Of course she said she'd find out for me.  And of course I never saw her again.  But I did write down what I guessed were the ingredients, hoping that when I came home I could maybe perhaps recreate it.

After a number of failures less-than-spectacular attempts, I think I hit upon a close approximation.

Jerusalem Carrot Salad - Easy
Yield: 6-8 servings

2 Tbl. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1/4 tsp. zhug or cayenne pepper (optional)
1 Tbl. honey
1 pound carrots
2 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts, chopped
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 loosely packed cup parsley leaves, chopped

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add cumin, cinnamon, paprika and zhug or cayenne pepper (if using); sauté stirring frequently, until the mixture becomes fragrant, about 1-2 minutes (watch to make sure the mixture doesn't burn).

Remove immediately from heat; stir in honey. Let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, peel then finely grate the carrots. Place in large mixing or serving bowl. Add cooled spice mixture, lemon juice, pistachio nuts, salt, black pepper and parsley. Toss gently to distribute spices.

Serve chilled or at room temperature. Any leftovers can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days.