How an Anglo-Jewish Community Rebounded after a Massacre, and Continues to Grow

On the fast of the Ninth of Av, many Ashkenazi congregations recite an elegy “for the martyrs of York,” who were victims of a wave of anti-Semitic violence that swept through Britain following the coronation of Richard I. Recently uncovered evidence suggests that the beleaguered community swiftly recovered from the calamity. Rosa Doherty writes:

The tranche of information “dispels myths and challenges preconceptions” of what life was like for Jews in the years following the pogrom of 1190, when the city’s entire Jewish community was besieged inside Clifford’s Tower at York Castle by an anti-Semitic mob. The tower was burned down by locals after fabricated stories, which came to be known as the blood libel, spread that Jews were guilty of murdering Christian children and using their blood to perform religious rituals. An estimated 150 York Jews were murdered or took their own lives rather than renounce their faith.

Using documents from the Durham Cathedral Archives, academics have created digital reconstructions of the houses where the York’s most prominent Jewish citizens lived and have pinpointed the location of the city’s first synagogue. They have also traced how leading figures from the Jewish community cooperated with the senior clergy of York Minster in purchasing the large stone building which became the city’s Guildhall.

They include Leo Episcopus, his son-in-law Aaron of York, and Aaron’s nephew Josce le Jovene. Leo and Aaron were representatives of the Jewish community of England, and in the 1230s and 1240s the latter was thought to be the richest man in the country.

York recently welcomed its first resident rabbi since the expulsion of the Jews from England under King Edward I in 1290.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Jewish history


How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus