When walking through the aisles of The Jerusalem International Market, the customers could hear Awni Abukaff, the owner of the market, talking to a group of “regulars” who were purchasing Halal meat and other Halal foods. Abukaff quickly sliced lamb, beef and chicken behind the counter as he let customers sample his top quality meat, the cornerstone of his business’s 13-year success.

The Jerusalem International Market offers its customers a variety of freshly prepared and packaged food that are not only delicious and exotic, but also Halal. Halal is a Quranic term which translates to “allowed” or “lawful.” Halal food and drink are acceptable for consumption by Allah. In Islam, eating Halal is obligatory for every Muslim. According to Abukaff, the store got its name due to the fact that Jerusalem is a key city in three major religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

“Muslims and Jews both practice this way of eating. It is so great because these items come from the Mediterranean and are grown natural. We don’t sell cigarettes, alcohol or pork meat. Everything here is fresh and healthy.” Abukaff said.

Selling for $3.69 for a lamb leg or a pound of lamb, $2.69 for stewed meat and $2.29 for ground beef, the meats are the calling card of the store.

As Abukaff busily prepared food behind the counter, the customers browsed other sections of the market. Old fashioned breads, olive oils, Mediterranean spices, hummus, pitas, falafel, tabouleh and cheeses from all around the world are piled high on shelves throughout the market.

“Everyone comes here asking about our Turkish cheese. It is only $3.99 a pound and at most markets, it sells for at least $9.99 a pound. We have the largest variety of Turkish cheese than any other market in Ann Arbor and it is always sold out after two weeks,” said Nagwa Abukaff, Awni’s wife and an employee at the market.

While the majority of the merchandise is pre-packaged, there is also a cooking area where meat and other dishes are freshly prepared. “You can’t get this food at Kroger’s or Meijer. This food is from Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece. The cheeses, philo dough, paratha bread and suji are all from around the world,” Abukaff said to his customers.

Near the cash register, there are a variety of desserts on display such as cookies, dried fruits and Oriental and Middle Eastern candies.

“Even though I live far from North Campus, it is really only a five-minute drive and it is worth making a trip over here for the desserts. I bring home the packaged cookies and dried fruits and everyone in my sorority loves them,” said LSA sophomore Jill Burzin, holding a plastic container full of different nuts she chose from each barrel near the counter. The barrels contain nuts from different countries and Mediterranean fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, eggplant, oranges and olives.

In the showcase of freshly prepared food are sauces, meats, hummus, mixed vegetables, freshly made baklava fingers, and bread sticks, along with many other side dishes, which sell for $2.19 a pound.

Many Muslim students, such as LSA sophomore Muhammad Luqman, shop at The Jerusalem International Market because it is one of the only places near campus that sells these foods.

“I’m Muslim so I need to eat Halal foods. This is the best place on campus because it is the cheapest and the best quality,” Luqman said.

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