English church’s apologises for 800-year-old anti-Jewish laws
Posted On May 9, 2022
The Church of England has issued a historic apology to the Jewish community over a set of anti-Semitic laws in 800 years ago that paved the way for a mass expulsion.
This year marks the 800th anniversary of the Synod of Oxford, which implemented new rules from the Vatican in Rome about the treatment of Jewish people in what were thought to be “Christian” countries.
The laws forced Jewish people to wear identifying badges, forbade them from social interactions with Christians, imposed a church tithe on Jewish people, restricted them from numerous professions, and banned the construction of new synagogues.
These laws were followed by ever more draconian strictures in subsequent years, including restrictions on property ownership and inheritance, culminating in King Edward I’s order in 1290 that all Jewish people be expelled from England.
It is estimated between 2000 – 3000 Jewish people had to leave the country, migrating to destinations as varied as Scotland, France, and Poland. Jews were forbidden to set foot in England until Oliver Cromwell’s republican government revoked the expulsion in the 1650s.
Today – Sunday in the UK – Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford hosted an interfaith service with chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and representatives of the Catholic Church and of the Church of England’s head, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
“The commemoration of the Synod of Oxford is a symbolic opportunity to apologise for the shameful actions of past prejudicial and persecuting laws of the Church against Jews,” Oxford Archdeacon Jonathan Chaffey said.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the service was an opportunity to “repent, remember, and rebuild”.
“Let us pray it inspires Christians today to reject contemporary forms of anti-Judaism and antisemitism, and to appreciate and receive the gift of our Jewish neighbours,” he said.
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Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain said “the Jews of 1222 would have been astonished and pleased to hear Hebrew ring out in this cathedral”.
Although the expulsion predates the creation of the Protestant Church of England in 1534, the Archbishop of Canterbury was still generally deemed to be the senior representative of the Christian clergy in England in the 1200s.