York to commemorate Holocaust and medieval massacre of its Jews

York extends Holocaust Memorial Day until March 16 to mark the destruction of its community in 1190


York will host a commemoration event at York Castle on Monday, honouring the Holocaust and marking the 830th anniversary of the city’s massacre of its Jewish community.  

The public event will take place under Clifford’s Tower and is being organised by York City Council.

Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations in York have been extended until March 16 to mark the murder of around 150 Jews, the city’s entire Jewish community at the time, at Clifford Tower's in 1190.  

The event will include an introduction to ‘Stand Together’, the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2020.  

‘Stand Together’ explores how genocide can result from oppressive marginalising groups in society and how social solidarity can help challenge repression.  

Attendees will be invited to listen to music and readings, as well as light lanters and lay pebbles in honour of the dead.  

The hour-long event will begin at 6:30pm.

The Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Janet Looker said that “Holocaust Memorial Day is a reminder of the historic and present persecutions still occurring and the ‘Stand Together’ events programme is a great way to raise awareness throughout the city”.  

Councillor Darryl Smalley, York Council’s executive member for culture, leisure and communities said: “York is proud to stand with others once again, to raise awareness and commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. 

“We hope to see both residents and visitors join us at Clifford’s Tower memorial to show their support for York’s Jewish population."  

The massacre occurred during an upsurge in popular antisemitism amid England’s participation in the crusades and anger at a Jewish delegation’s attendance at the coronation of Richard I in 1189.  

York's Jewish community took shelter in at Clifford's Tower after the community was accused of causing a fire in the city.

Besieged, those who did not wish to convert were advised to kill themselves by Rabbi Yom Tov of York, a liturgical poet whose Hebrew hyms are sung in many Ashkenazi synagogues at Yom Kippur.

Those who did not were murdered the following day. 

Massacres also took place in London in 1189 and at Norwich, Lincoln and Stamford in 1190.  

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