Another Jewlicious Public Service Announcementâ„¢

As another week slowly gives way with the setting of the sun to the blissful repose of Shabbat, I find myself thinking of Israel, my beloved land. And so, being meditatively disposed as I am, I feel the need to use my journalistic platform to deliver a heartfelt message to the land and to its people on this Shabbat eve. I begin with a simple picture:

I don’t expect my Israeli readers to recognize what is pictured above, as it is apparently foreign to Israeli society. But hear me out. It’s called a “shopping basket.” It can be used in a grocery store to place purchased goods in when one is planning on buying too much to carry by hand but too little to justify the use of an entire shopping cart. It comes in especially handy on Fridays, when every single man, woman, child and dog in Israel and their entire extended family from Queens go to the grocery store, creating a scene of mass urban warfare that makes Grozny look like Des Moines. Now, bear with me…the use of shopping baskets frees up significant space that would be normally occupied by homicidal little babushkas slamming down too-narrow aisles with entire carts to hold their three rutabagas and loaf of bread. It would mean the lines for the register wouldn’t extend all the way back to the meat counter, out the back door, down the street, around the corner, to a small village in northern India (it turns out that young Israelis aren’t really vacationing in the Far East, they’re just in line). And (here Michael pulls out the trump card) Americans use them. America is cooooool, isn’t it? Yeah…you want to be like Americans, don’tcha? Come onnnnnnn…

Well. Anyway. Now that I’ve finished my Friday shopping, I’m going to go lie down and nurse my post-traumatic stress syndrome. Shabbat friggin’ shalom.

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  • as ck can attest to, having seen me grocery shopping in Montreal, I have always been anti-cart. I feel it implies too much commitment.

    There are, however, a few alternatives to the hand cart –
    1) take the agala, aka granny cart. Pile your groceries in there, onto the conveyor belt for check out and straight back in. Very efficient, although I’ve only recently been able to use this method myself, as a granny cart was like half a regular cart, and thus a commitment issue.
    2) take a bunch of plastic bags at the beginning of your shopping experience. While it feels a little like shoplifting going through a store putting items in bags before you pay, it’s perfectly acceptable here.

    As always though, it’s best to avoid the combat sport known as friday shopping.

  • Hmmm, Michael, I don’t know where you shop, but in TA, where *I* shop we do have those shopping baskets and I have seen them in many other places too. Where are you from, Jerusalem?

  • I’ve done the Laya method in a pinch and she’s right, it does feel naughty. I also take my book bag and have used it on occasion as a shopping bag. You really get looks. But I hear ya about the basket – Mr. Zol is the worst for this – too cheap to buy baskets. I think that the best suggestion is to take off your shirt and MacGyver it into a sack or maybe take one of those big delivery bins and put it on your head as you shop.

  • in south africa, you have to pay for your shopping bags, and they’re a lot thicker and more durable. hence everyone brings their own bags (because they couldnt possibly spare 20 agorot per bag), and we also have shopping baskets. and smaller trollies, just to fit 2 shopping baskets. our local supermarket here in Kiryat Ono has 3 shopping baskets. all with handles long gone and new ones made of plastic bags.

    my advice – do not shop on a friday or thursday evening ever. ever! your blood pressure will thank you.

  • Out here in Modi’in we have shopping baskets (both metal and plastic!) at every single supermarket. Want me to steal one for you?

  • Uhh, yeah. Or maybe I should just acquire a lover and start crashing in Modi’in. Or maybe I should perform acts of industrial sabotage (to a pumping Beastie Boys soundtrack, of course) to the Givah ha-Tzarfatit Supersol. Or is it a Mister Zol? Or is the Mister Zol the one in Givat Shapira? Man. There’s another fucking rant. What’s with the similar supermarket names?

  • Michael: lol, I know *exactly* what you’re talking about. I remember going into one of those “super” markets in 2002, and getting packed between the narrow walls of cans and inter-locking shopping carts. Throw in the mix the amount of guns people were shlepping with them, and it was quite surreal for me!

    I prefer to grab two baskets when I do any amount of shopping. It limits how much you buy to what you can physically carry, and you get a good workout. 🙂 Word to the wise: you’ll do your muscles and your back a favor if you balance the weight between the two baskets.

  • Plenty of shopping baskets in Ra’anana, too. Come on down.

    Also, you can get the shopping done at a late-night market on Thursday night. Nice, quiet, peaceful, empty.

  • Shouldn’t it be come on up to Ra’anana? I definitely sympathize with the supermarket induced trauma, as I think anyone can who has spend any extended period of time ba’aretz. Thankfully, I found an awesome 24 hour supermarket (because supermarkets are bad enough without screaming children) in Herzeliya Pituach with quite a few imported items in addition to the Israeli essentials. And parking! Though I must say, anyone who is lucky enough not to live in the suburbs would be wiser to go to the produce guys (and ladies) for produce, the bakery for baked goods, etc., and generally avoid the supermarket. As for baskets, canvas tote bags are a nice, environmentally friendly alternative.

  • Most supermarkets here in London have tills only for people with baskets with less than 5 items.

  • I love you. It’s not necessarily that they aren’t available, it’s that no one will use them. How would they “hold” their place in line while they continue shopping if they only used little baskets or bags?

  • Oh N, Israel has that too. But what Israel has that London doesn’t is Israelis and Israelis don’t care about rules as silly as “5 Items or Less.”

  • ofri — yeah but Herzliya Pituach is for the rich people.
    That’s like saying “In Beverly Hills.”

    How do I get to be a rich person and shop in Herzliya Pituach? That’s my dream in life. Though I’ll settle for Modiin.

  • amechad – that’s not entirely true. to shop for designer furniture in Herzeliya Pituach you have to be “rich,” and to live in Herzeliya Pituach you definitely have to be rich. i’m certainly not particularly rich, and I don’t live there, but as someone who is used to living in American suburbia and not being able to go anywhere without a car, driving ten minutes to the supermarket doesn’t phase me. and the cafes and restaurants in pituach aren’t any more expensive than your average Israeli sit down restaurant. If you’re referring to Arena, then you’re right, not too many people can afford what those merchants have to offer. But malls are gross anyway.

  • taking shopping bags ahead of time works, unless you buy more than you expected and they rip before you can check out.

    michael– it’s indeed mister zol on french hill. French hill and givat shapira are one and the same. Givat Shapira is the official name; French hill is the name that people actually know what your talking about if you use.