York’s Blackest Hour
By Baruch ben Chayil
Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly
Introduction: My British-born chavrusa, study partner, in Telshe Stone first alerted me to the significance of the infamous 1190 York pogrom. He has something of a personal connection with the affair, or at least with a related event that occurred subsequently in modern times.
As a young man from a nonobservant family that had survived the Holocaust, he actually attended the University of York without knowing that British rabbis had centuries before placed a cherem, a prohibition, on Jews residing in the city of York. He told me how his grandmother was appalled to hear that he was going to York. “They kill Jews there, you know.” When my chavrusa reassured her: “Granny, that was eight hundred years ago,” she replied, “Some things never change!”
My chavrusa once even performed with the university orchestra in York Minster, the cathedral which was the subject of a very mysterious fire early in the morning on July 9, 1984, following reburial, the day before, of Jewish bones which, by some accounts, could have included victims of the twelfth-century massacre. The interesting aspect of this fire was that the part of the cathedral that was extensively damaged was the pre-thirteenth-century section.