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Windmill turning again, huge mezuzah at the Wall, donkey WiFi

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Here are some recent stories out of Israel that you may have missed:

As the windmill turns, again

The historic Montefiore Windmill in Jerusalem is turning again for the first time in 100 years. Following a restoration, the windmill in the Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood was rededicated last week. 

The windmill, which was built  in 1858 by Moses Montefiore, is set to become a tourist site and will include a movie about its history. The flour mill was the first place that Jews were able to work outside of Jerusalem’s Old City.  It was restored with the assistance of the Jerusalem Foundation, donations from the Netherlands and the Heritage Program of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

"The story of the windmill is part of the story of the State of Israel," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the rededication ceremony. "This was the scenery of my youth, and it is said that a man is always defined by the scenery of his youth. We grew up with the windmill, this windmill which always served as a symbol for us."

The Western Wall’s record mezuzah

What is being called the world’s largest mezuzah was affixed to the gate of the upper entrance to the Western Wall Plaza.

The bronze mezuzah, designed by the late Spanish artist Salvador Dali, is 55 inches long, 9.8 inches wide and weighs 88 pounds. The parchment inside the mezuzah case is nearly 24 inches long. It was donated by French philanthropist Shmuel Flatto-Sharon and was affixed during a ceremony conducted by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz.

Other mezuzahs claiming to be the world’s largest include one that was affixed two years ago at the arrivals gate at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel, and a mezuzah donated by Flatto-Sharon to the Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot. 

Ice cream vendor serves up justice

An ice cream vendor at a beach in Ashdod took the law into his own hands to catch a thief. Throughout the summer, beachgoers had reported thefts of money, cell phones, purses and jewelry.

So Ilan, 40, reportedly set a trap following a wave of thefts near his kiosk, the Yediot Achronot newspaper reported. After warning his customers about the many thefts and offering to watch people’s possessions for a small fee, Ilan placed six backpacks with empty wallets and other items in areas of the beach that he could see from his ice cream stand.

Ilan witnessed a man dressed in haredi Orthodox garb pick up one of the backpacks and reportedly followed him, then physically overcame the thief and brought him to the police. The man was part of a ring of seven thieves, men and women, who had stolen $125,000 in cash and items over the summer while dressed to blend in with the haredi beachgoers.

While Ilan may be a hero to beachgoers, Yediot reported that since the incident, he has had to dodge some large thugs looking for him on the beach. Perhaps that’s why he preferred not to give his last name to the media.

Donkey hotspots in the Galilee

Tourists who just can’t put down their handheld electronic devices — even while riding on donkeys dressed in clothes from bibical times — can get Internet access at a recreational park in the Galilee town of Hoshaya.

Five of the donkeys at Kfar Kedem have been turned into WiFi hotspots, equipped with wireless routers. And the 25 other donkeys there may follow suit, park officials said. While it’s a shame the electronics obsessed may be missing some of the beautiful scenery, at least they can upload some awesome photos from the experience on their Facebook pages. The ancient Galileans would have loved it.

Young lover’s Shabbat trek to bliss

A young religious man walked all night on Shabbat in order to propose to his girlfriend when she awoke in the morning.

The young man walked the nearly 20 miles from Jerusalem to the West Bank settlement of Ofra because he could not wait for the end of Shabbat to get his answer, Ynet reported. His mother reportedly spent the whole night praying and studying Torah to ensure his success when her son asked for his beloved’s hand.

On his trek the man carried only a bottle of water, the engagement ring and a clean shirt, Ynet reported.

When he arrived at her house on Shabbat morning, his love was still asleep. Her mother woke her and invited the young man to enter her bedroom to propose.

She reportedly said yes on the spot — probably because of the clean shirt. 

Israel helps Mars rover keep cool

It’s cool to be from Israel when you are on Mars.

Cryogenic coolers, manufactured by Ricor Cryogenic and Vacuum Systems at Israel’s Kibbutz Ein Harod, landed on Mars onboard the NASA Curiosity Mars rover. The coolers are being used for one of the experiments on board the Mars rover, Ynet reported. 

Hebrew ‘Shades of Grey’

Israeli women soon will be able to get their hands on the best-selling novel "Fifty Shades of Grey."

The book, translated into Hebrew, is set to hit Israeli stores this month. It also will be offered in a Hebrew digital edition.

"Fifty Shades of Grey" deals with a sadomasochistic relationship between a female college student and an older businessman, and has sold more than 30 million copies in 37 countries.

Baby sand kittens on the prowl 

Four sand kittens, considered extinct in Israel, were born to two sand cats at the Ramat Gan Safari near Tel Aviv.

The mother is Rotem, who came to Israel from Germany t
Fifty Shades of Greywo years ago. The proud dad is a Polish sand cat who had arrived two years earlier. The safari park is part of a European breeding program for sand cats.

Sand cats are the only species of feline to live in the desert. They resemble average house cats. Once the kittens are old enough, they will be transferred to other zoos to start their own families. They grow up so fast.

North Koreans’ aliyah an Egyptian faux pas

An Egyptian media report that more than 100 North Koreans had immigrated to Israel to serve in its military likely was a translation error, perhaps due to the Ramadan fast, an editor at the Egyptian state news agency MENA told Daily News Egypt. In fact, it was a chartered aliyah flight carrying 127 new army recruits from North America that had arrived last month at Ben Gurion Airport. 

Egyptian newspapers and websites had published the story with headlines including “The Israeli Army Recruits 127 People from North Korea.”

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