Fortunately, I had an escape plan: Shuk Ha’Carmel, a Jewish street festival (named after a (the?) major market in Tel Aviv). It took place right off the Kurfürstendamm (aka the Kudamm), the big, glitzy shopping district. Obviously I had never been to the Kudamm, and equally obviously, I plan to make every effort to never go there again–except maybe to practice my Spanish: the place was full of Spaniards. 

After getting through a pretty intense security screening, I was greeted immediately by two smiling women saying, “Здравствуйте! Желаете газету?” Did you know that outside of Russia, the largest number of native speakers of Russian live in the US, Germany, and Israel, in that order? All the signs and posters at this fair were in some combination of German, Hebrew, and Russian; many of the people manning the stands didn’t seem to have a very good command of German. It was fun. 

And what was in the stands? A lot of them were selling books and giving out flyers about various Jewish cultural centers and events; others offered art, dried herbs, baked goods, and information about private Jewish schools in the city. My favorites, however, had falafel, borshch, meat-on-a-stick, and bliny with cottage cheese. I bought some borshch from a man who didn’t seem very pleased to sell it to me, got it all over myself, and then gave up and went to listen to the band, which, unfortunately, had moved on from its Klezmer set into a karaoke version of “Moves like Jagger.”


On the way home, look what I found! It’s the world’s worst beach party!