Some famous landmarks can be viewed from a distance. Locals and visitors rarely find the time to visit. The windmill in Jerusalem usually fits into that category. As the sun was setting, we walked toward this icon.
The familiar site became more impressive and more impressive. Eventually, we stood beneath its magnificence. I wondered…Did this photographic treasure known as Montefiore’s Windmill have any history worth repeating?
Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885) was a successful British businessman and a notable philanthropist. Queen Victoria knighted him and Montefiore received the status of baron. During his life, he visited the Land of Israel seven times. Montefiore was devoted to charitable endeavors and alleviating the distress of worldwide Jewry.
Montefiore was appointed an executor of Judah Touro‘s (1775-1854) will. Touro, an American merchant and philanthropist, bequeathed money for Jewish settlements in Palestine. The first Jewish residential settlement outside the old walled city of Jerusalem was Mishkenot Sha’ananim. Since it was dangerous to reside outside the protection of the walls, Montefiore offered incentives to the Jewish poor.
In 1857, Montefiore funded the windmill. Like many of his other projects, he wanted to provide work opportunities for the indigent. The mill ground grain into flour. Disappointingly, the windmill was not used after a couple of decades. It was too costly to repair.
During Israel’s War of Independence, Jewish fighters used the landmark for strategic advantage. The British military blew the top off. The Jews called this exploit, “Operation Don Quixote.”
A recent renovation restored the windmill to its old glory and created a small museum. One of Montefiore’s restored carriages is parked outside. Keep in mind that if you come at sundown, the museum will be closed.
Many come to this site to take pictures of the Old City and Mount Zion. Bridal parties were leaving as we arrived. As dusk turned into night, it was challenging to capture crisp city images on our cameras. I deleted the distorted images. We viewed the windmill from a variety of vantage points and walked around the artist colony and upscale residencies. As I walked to my car, I wondered what Montifiore would think of worldwide Jewry and its relationship to modern Israel.
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Sandra Bornstein is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She shares her experiences and recommendations on this blog and on other websites. Sandra contributes a monthly travel tip column for Golden Living, a Best Version Media magazine.
Sandra is the author of MAY THIS BE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. This memoir highlights Sandra’s living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. As a licensed Colorado teacher, Sandra has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad. She also taught college-level courses.
Sandra’s memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards, 2013 USA Best Book Awards, and an Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards.