WINDMILL OF YEMIN MOSHE

By Yehuda Amichai

This windmill never ground flour.
It ground holy air and Bialik’s
Birds of longing, it ground
Words and ground time, it ground
Rain and even shells
But it never ground flour.

Now it’s discovered us,
And grinds our lives day by day
Making out of us the flour of peace
Making out of us the bread of peace
For the generation to come.

From ‘Poems of Jerusalem’.
Translated by Glenda Abramson & Tudor Parfitt. 

Yehuda Amichai was Israel’s most famous poet and one of the most famous poets of the modern era. He wrote in Hebrew, but his poems where translated to many different languages. He was born in Germany in 1924 and made Aliyah to Israel in 1936.  He lived in Yemin Moshe, the neighborhood named after Sir Moses Montefiore, in the shadow of the Montefiore Windmill overlooking the Old City Walls of Jerusalem. He died in Jerusalem in the year 2000.

Yitzhak Yaacoby tells the story that he bought a bottle of Yehuda Amichai’s favorite Heering Cherry Liqueur from Duty Free. He went to Yemin Moshe to present it in person. Amichai was so touched, that he sat down and penned this poem, ‘The Windmill in Yemin Moshe’, on a bit of paper and gave it to Yaacoby in return. (Yaacoby, appointed by Mayor Teddy Kollek, was responsible for the redevelopment of Mishkenot Sha’ananim and Yemin Moshe.) The poem was published in the book ‘Poems of Jerusalem’. The front cover shows the iron work at Mishkenot Sha’ananim.