I recently went on an amazing Bnei Brak food tour at night. I had so much fun and recommend it highly!
This night walking tour is an experience of sights, sounds and aromas, an opportunity to discover (and taste!) the food and culture of ultra-orthodox Jews, or ‘haredim’ as they are called in Israel.
Bnei-Brak is an ultra-orthodox city about fifteen minutes from Tel Aviv. On Thursday nights, the streets of Bnei Brak are full of people shopping and preparing for the Shabbat.
Seeing families with young children and babies in strollers walking at midnight is completely normal here!
The tour is led by a charming haredi couple, Itzik and Galia Elman.
As we made our way down the busy streets on a cool and rainy night, the couple pointed out the local landmarks. Bnei Brak is not an 'attractive' city, but it definitely has character!
Itzik entertained us with anecdotes, jokes and insights into the customs of this insulated, but fascinating religious community. He explained to us how, by looking at the hair, head covering and clothing of passerbys, one can discern between different types of ultra-orthodox sects.
The best part of the Bnei Brak food tour is, of course, the food tasting! You will be sampling treats at 4 different places with the last stop including a meat meal. So do come hungry.
Entering Vishnitz Challah Bakery, the aroma of freshly baked challah bread is intoxicating.
You get to taste the delicious challah still hot from the oven. Challah is traditional Jewish knotted bread eaten on Shabbat.
Vishnitz Challah Bakery is considered the best challah bakery in Bnei-Brak and perhaps in all of Israel. It is open only two days a week, on Thursdays and Fridays, so that the community can buy the challahs just before the Sabbath.
We continuted eating at Katz Bakery, where we tasted from different authentic Jewish-Hungarian pastries.
My favorite one was called 'jerbo', a traditional Hungarian layered cake made with chocolate, walnuts, apricot jam, and sometimes with poppy-seed. Delicous!
My favorite spot was Zehava’s Delicatessen which specializes in their homemade smoked fish.
They offer a huge variety of smoked and pickled herring, lox (smoked salmon), white fish and more.
The store set up a small table for us with a tantalizing assortment of fishes, crackers, pickles, olives and a bottle of vodka.
The fish goes down great with the chasers! My favorite was the red smoked herring. The red color comes from the beets used in the pickling process. The fish tasted fresh and the flavor was quite delicate.
The last food stop was at Shtisel's which prepares traditional Ashkenazic food, meaning Jewish Eastern European food.
They prepare mainly for takeaway, but have a room in the back where you can eat. We sat at a table and were served:
A kugel is a thick casserole / pudding dish that is usually made from either potatoes or noodles.
Thanks - Your tour guide will be in touch very soon!
You may also be interested in:
What to See and Do in Israel
Bnei Brak Walking Food Tour