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Remains of 500 People Who Lived in England Eight Centuries Ago Reburied in Jewish Funeral Service

The remains of 500 people who have lived in England eight centuries ago were reburied at York yesterday in a Jewish funeral service conducted by Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits.

The bodies, believed to be mostly of Jews, were reinterred in a part of the city called Jewbury, the reputed site of one of the most important Jewish cemeteries of medieval England. The remains had been discovered during development of the land to make way for a supermarket. Until then, the site had not been recognized as a Jewish cemetery.

At yesterday’s ceremony, Jakobovits noted that the Anglo-Jewish community had ceased to exist with the expulsion of Jews from this country in 1290 and was not revived until 1656 when Oliver Cromwell authorized the readmission of Jews to England.

A century before the expulsion, York had also been the site of a notorious massacre of the city’s Jewish community, many of whom preferred to take their own lives rather than die at the hands of their Christian attackers.

In consecrating Jewbury as a Jewish burial ground, the Chief Rabbi was disregarding the tradition that the city of York should be boycotted by Orthodox Jews because of the medieval massacre which occurred there. Eight years ago, the Chief Rabbi, together with leading Christian clergy, unveiled a commemorative plaque at the base of Clifford’s Tower, the Norman stronghold, in which the Jewish massacre took place.

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