Historic Milestone: York Welcomes First Resident Rabbi in Over 700 Years

The city of York is on the verge of making history as it prepares to welcome its first resident Rabbi in over seven centuries. Dr Elisheva Salamo from California, US, has been appointed to the significant position, marking a milestone for the city since the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290.

The historic appointment comes after a long period of absence since one of the darkest chapters in the city’s history. In 1190, York witnessed one of the worst anti-Semitic massacres of the Middle Ages, leading to the tragic deaths of an estimated 150 Jews during a series of anti-Semitic riots. The attacks occurred within the confines of York Castle’s tower, now known as Clifford’s Tower, which stands as a reminder of the tragic past. A commemorative plaque at the base of the hill leading to the tower serves as a poignant reminder of the events that unfolded.

Dr Elisheva Salamo brings a wealth of experience to her new role, having previously served as a Rabbi, teacher, and youth leader in the United States, South Africa, and Switzerland. Her appointment is seen as a significant step towards rebuilding what was once a thriving Jewish community in York, with immense potential for the future.

Expressing her honour and privilege, Elisheva said, “Helping to re-build what was once one of England’s most vibrant Jewish communities – and which has such great potential – is an honour and a privilege. I look forward to meeting our current members and anyone with an interest in a Jewish journey.”

In her new role, Dr Elisheva Salamo will work part-time for the city’s Liberal Jewish Community. Her first formal engagement will be leading the community’s Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, services during the Jewish high holy day period, scheduled from September 15 to 25.

Ben Rich, co-founder of the York Liberal Jewish Community and head of the Rabbinic search committee, emphasized the significance of this moment not only for the local Jewish community but also nationally and internationally. He hopes that the global Jewish community and its allies will support their journey to bring Judaism back to this ancient and beautiful city.

As York welcomes its first resident Rabbi in centuries, the city is making a profound statement about inclusion, diversity, and the importance of healing historical wounds. The appointment is a significant step forward, symbolizing hope and progress for the Jewish community in York and beyond.

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