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1190 March 16, YORK (England)

On the Sabbath eve before Passover (Shabbat Hagadol), a group made up of clergymen, barons indebted to the Jews, and Crusaders waiting to follow Richard set Jewish houses on fire and stole all their valuables. The Jews under Josce, a prominent Jew of York, and their rabbi, Yom Tov of Joigny (a contemporary of Rabbenu Tam and author of the Yom Kippur Hymn Omnam Ken), fled to the castle. Richard Malebys (a noble who owed large sums to Jewish moneylenders) and other indebted nobles commanded the attackers. For 6 days the Jews held out. A stone thrown from the tower killed a monk, who came each morning to celebrate mass, and inflamed the crowd. Facing the choice of baptism or death, most chose death, committing suicide after destroying their belongings. According to tradition, Josce killed his wife and two children, and was in turn killed by the rabbi who was the last to die. The few who remained alive opened the gate and requested baptism, only to be massacred anyway. Over 150 Jews died, the sheriff of York dismissed, and the bonds of debts to Jews which were kept for safekeeping in York Minster were burned on the floor of the church.




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