Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/ Flash 90
Montefiore’s Windmill.

Israel’s official Yizkor website for the country’s fallen, now includes a Haredi man, Aharon Hershler, son of Hana and Yosef Shmuel, who was killed at age 23, on January 5, 1873, a little over 150 years ago, and was buried on Mt. Olives. You can visit here to light a virtual yahrzeit candle in his memory.

Aaron Hershler was born in 1850 in Hungary. His father, a scholar, and a well-known rabbi, made Aliyah and became a Rosh Kolel at the Kollel Shomrei HaChomos, a.k.a. the Hungarian Kollel. The family lived outside the walls of the Old City, in the neighborhood of Mishkenot Sha’ananim, famous for its windmill that was built in 1857 by Moshe Montefiore.


Aharon worked as a security guard at the windmill. The year 1873 was blessed with rains that filled every cistern in the Jewish families’ courtyards of the houses. It meant that the poor Jewish residents didn’t have to buy water that year from the Arabs of Kfar Ha’Shiloah (Silwan), so, the Arabs began raiding Jewish homes to rob and loot what they couldn’t get in an honest trade. On the second day of Rosh Chodesh Tevet, 5631 (January 1, 1873), some Arabs broke into Jewish homes. Aharon, who was at his post by the windmill, chased them away and tried to catch them. The Arabs riddled his body with 12 bullets, and he was evacuated to the hospital. On Friday, January 5, 1873, young Aharon died of his wounds. He left a widow and a daughter, his parents, and his siblings.

In recent years, the Montefiore windmill was renovated as a tourist attraction. This year, its operators, JLM Yazamut, decided to mark the death of the young man who lost his life defending the neighborhood 150 years ago, by freezing the windmill’s blades to resemble the letter X. And Aharon Hershler was officially added to the list of the fallen in Israel, which is scrolled on TV screens for 24 hours on Memorial Day.


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