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A medieval massacre nearly wiped out the Jews of York, England. New research shows how the community recovered.

(JTA) — Earlier this month, the small Jewish community in the British city of York celebrated the arrival of a new rabbi, its first since the city’s Jewish community was nearly wiped out in a pogrom in 1190.

Or so they thought.

Just weeks after the new rabbi, Elisheva Salamo, arrived in the city, a team of researchers has discovered that Jews in York rebuilt their community in the decades after the pogrom — though they still faced antisemitism in the years leading up to the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290.

In findings published this week, a team of researchers from the University of York have found the location of the city’s first synagogue, and discovered how, in the years after 1190, leading figures from the Jewish community cooperated with local church leadership in purchasing a stone building that became the city’s Guildhall, which functioned at the time as a civic center.

“The amount of new information that has been uncovered by the team is truly inspiring,” Howard Duckworth, warden of the York Synagogue, said in a statement. “We have discovered a totally new history of Jews in York, which for many years has been overshadowed by the massacre at Clifford’s Tower. This research is so much more, a real history anyone can relate to. When you walk through York now, you see York with totally different eyes.”

The researchers were part of a project called StreetLife York, which hopes to “revitalise and diversify” the city’s main street, called Coney Street, in part by learning about its more than 1,000-year history. The researchers focused on Jews who lived on Coney Street during the 1200s.

“The massacre of York’s Jews in 1190 has overshadowed the fact that from the 1210s onwards there was once more a thriving Jewish community living and working in the city in mostly harmonious relations with their Christian neighbours,” read an announcement from the university. It added that “the chief Jewish citizens of the city were also some of the most important figures in England.”

In the 1190 massacre, which occurred on the Shabbat before Passover, the Jews of York sought refuge in a tower in the king’s castle as antisemitic rioters intended to forcibly convert them to Christianity or kill them. The city’s Jews chose to kill themselves rather than convert, and approximately 150 people are estimated to have died in the pogrom.

Basing their designs on surviving medieval houses in York, the researchers digitally reconstructed the homes of prominent Jewish leaders of York following the massacre — including an uncle-and-nephew pair, Leo Episcopus and Aaron of York; Aaron’s wife Henna, and his nephew Josce le Jovene. The researchers also found the exact locations of homes of the two leading members of the Jewish community that existed prior to the pogrom in 1190.

They also found that the community’s first synagogue was located on the back plot of Aaron of York’s house. Leo and Aaron served as representatives of the whole Jewish community of England, and for a time, Aaron was considered the richest man in the country.

The digital reconstruction found that although the synagogue was close to a church, there was no evidence of direct conflict between the two religious communities. But the synagogue, and others in the country, did face discrimination from the king. A 1253 royal statute proclaimed, “In their synagogues the Jews should all subdue their voices when performing their ritual offices, so that Christians shall not hear them.”

Jews were persecuted in other ways as well. In 1279, Josce le Jovene, a moneylender, and his son who was also named Aaron, were “hanged for felony,” though their crimes were not specified, according to researchers.

“During this period hundreds of Jews were being rounded up and apprehended at the Tower of London on the charge of ‘coin clipping’ — namely trimming bits of silver from coins to create new money,” the research project says. “While some Jews managed to escape by paying hefty fines or converting to Christianity, many faced severe sentences, including death.”

In 1290, Jews were expelled from England entirely. They were not permitted to return to England until 1656.

The post A medieval massacre nearly wiped out the Jews of York, England. New research shows how the community recovered. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Russia Extends Invitation to Palestinian Factions for Talks in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

i24 NewsRussia has extended invitations to various Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, for discussions on the Israel-Hamas conflict and broader issues in the Middle East.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov announced the initiative on Friday, highlighting Moscow’s desire to engage with all major players in the region amid heightened tensions.

The invitation included a dozen Palestinian groups and is slated for “inter-Palestinian” talks scheduled to commence on February 29.

Bogdanov, serving as President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for the Middle East, emphasized the inclusivity of the invitation, stating, “We invited all Palestinian representatives — all political forces that have their positions in different countries, including Syria, Lebanon, and other countries in the region.”

Among the invitees are Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, alongside representatives of Fatah and the broader Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The invitation comes at a critical juncture as the Israel-Hamas conflict continues to escalate, drawing international attention and concern. Russia’s proactive stance in convening discussions reflects its growing criticism of Israel and its Western allies, underscoring Moscow’s efforts to assert its influence in the region.

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Netanyahu: Those Who Want us to Desist from Rafah Op Are Telling Us to Lose

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 28, 2023. Photo: ABIR SULTAN POOL/Pool via REUTERS

i24 NewsHamas drops its “delusional” demands, productive hostage talks could begin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday, stressing Israel would not agree to the terror group’s current demands.

WATCH: PM Netanyahu delivers a statement after Hamas suspended negotiations

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) February 17, 2024

“I insist that Hamas should abandon its delusional demands – and when it does, we will be able to move forward,” Netanyahu said in a statement live on TV.

“Those who want us to desist from the Rafah operation,” the leader said in an apparent reference to the U.S. administration of President Joe Biden, “are telling us we should lose. We won’t be dictated to.”

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Iran Unveils New Air Defense Weaponry

Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani speaks at a press conference during the unveiling of a new surface-to-surface 4th generation Khorramshahr ballistic missile. Photo: Reuters/West Asia News Agency

i24 NewsIran demonstrated new weaponry on Saturday, including what it said was the locally made Arman anti-ballistic missile system and the Azarakhsh low-altitude air defense system, said the official IRNA news agency. Saturday’s unveiling ceremony of the two vehicle-mounted systems was held in the presence of Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani.

“With the entry of new systems into the country’s defense network, the air defense capability of the Islamic Republic of Iran will increase significantly,” said IRNA.

Video of the new Azarakhsh SHORAD engaging a target drone

It’s radar has a detection range of 50km, with 25km for it’s EO/IR suite

— Iran Defense|نیروهای مسلح جمهوری اسلامی ایران (@IranDefense) February 17, 2024

The Arman missile system is said to be able to “simultaneously confront six targets at a distance of 120 to 180 km,” while the Azarakhsh missile system “can identify and destroy targets up to a range of 50 km with four ready-to-fire missiles.”

The announcement comes amid tensions across the Middle East, with Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis attacking vessels linked to the United States, UK and Israel in the Red Sea in a show of solidarity with the Gaza Strip.

Iran unveils domestically-manufactured Arman anti-ballistic missile and Azarakhsh low-altitude air defense system

— Press TV (@PressTV) February 17, 2024

The U.S. and its allies in the Middle East are concerned with Iran’s growing role at the international global arms market, The Wall Street Journal said on Friday. The transformation of the industry, boosted by Russia’s “purchase of thousands of drones that altered the battlefield in Ukraine, has helped Tehran scale up its support of militia allies in Middle East conflicts,” read the report.

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