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Rags to Riches: A Short History of Yemin Moshe

Updated: May 6

Walking around the picturesque streets of Yemin Moshe, it’s hard to believe that the charming neighborhood was originally created in the 1860s as a solution for unsanitary conditions and overcrowding in the Old City.


Walking around the picturesque streets of Yemin Moshe, it’s hard to believe that the charming neighborhood was originally created in the 1860s as a solution for unsanitary conditions and overcrowding in the Old City. The first housing project known as Mishkenot Sha'ananim, consisted of two rows of buildings. Its first houses were completed by 1860 and contained 28 apartments of one-and-a-half rooms. The small neighborhood included a water cistern with an iron pump imported from England, a mikveh, and a communal oven.


Now, Jerusalem’s iconic Yemin Moshe neighborhood boasts some of the country’s most sought-after real estate. Its significance in Israeli history, its unforgettable, panoramic views of the Old City walls, and of course, easy access to the city center and dozens of activities in Jerusalem make it one of Jerusalem’s popular tourist destinations. The small city was established using the Montefiore Welfare Fund, a continuation of the philanthropic work of Moses Montefiore, and is most recognized by its emblematic windmill, built to allow poor Jews to grind their own flour. But not many people know that in addition to the windmill, Moses Montefiore also built a printing press, a textile factory, and helped finance several agricultural colonies in order to draw the Jews outside of the Jerusalem walls out of poverty.


While the original apartments were gated and secured to protect residents from nighttime raids by Arab marauders in the little neighborhood, now visitors are welcome to explore the charming streets of Mishkenot Sha’ananim, and hundreds of thousands stop at Montefiore's windmill every year. In fact, for the first time in a long time, the mill is open to the general public for wine tastings with Jerusalem Vineyard Winery. Imagine yourself a part of all of Yemin Moshe’s history inside the Montefiore Windmill.