Windmill’s fortunes set to turn

It is one of the Jerusalem's most famous landmarks and a symbol of British Jewry's long-standing links with the Land of Israel.

The windmill built at the instigation of Sir Moses Montefiore in 1857 to provide cheaper bread for poor Jews actually worked only for a short time.

But now its sails may turn again as part of a renovation of the neighbourhood planned to celebrate 150 years of British Jewish investment in Israel's capital city the year after next.

On Monday night, Jerusalem Foundation UK launched its "Jerusalem 2010" campaign which will include a programme of arts, education and events as well as a £15-million appeal.

One of the listed projects is to open a museum dedicated to the life and work of Sir Moses at Mishkenot Sha'ananim, the site overlooked by the windmill and of historic significance not only to the Jews of Britain. Completed in 1860, it was the first Jewish settlement built outside the Old City walls and hence a precursor of practical Zionism.

At a candlelit launch of the campaign at Bevis Marks Synagogue in the City of London, descendants of Sir Moses and supporters of the foundation signed a commemorative scroll as a "declaration of renewed commitment to British Jewry's attachment to Jerusalem", said the charity's chairman Martin Paisner.

In 40 years since the Jerusalem Foundation was founded by the city's most famous mayor, Teddy Kollek, British donors have contributed close to £100 million, Mr Paisner noted.

Mishkenot Sha'ananim - which means "peaceful dwellings" - was left stranded in no-man's land between 1948 and 1967. It subsequently became an artists' guesthouse and home of the Jerusalem Music Centre, alma mater of the Jerusalem Quartet who played at the campaign launch.

The windmill was originally constructed by a firm of Canterbury engineers. In 1858 the JC reported: "Before the rainy season set in, it was prophesied that the heavy rains... would wash it away: and when the mill was found to have passed through the stormy season in no way injured, it was pronounced to be the work of Satan."

    Last updated: 2:43pm, November 27 2008