Oxford Cathedral holds Service of Repentance

Flyer printed for the serviceOn Sunday 8th May, Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford hosted a special service of repentance that marked the 800th anniversary of the Oxford Synod of 1222. That Synod initiated a particularly disturbing time in Christian-Jewish relations in England that led to the mass expulsion of the Jewish community in 1290 and had widespread repercussions across Europe.

The laws that emerged from the 1222 Synod forbade social interactions between Jews and Christians, established specific church tithes on Jews and imposed the need for English Jews to wear an identifying badge – which many consider the most egregious of these anti-Jewish laws.

The cathedral’s anniversary event was arranged in association with the Oxford Jewish Congregation and offered a symbolic opportunity to apologise for the shameful decisions made at that Synod in 1222. The service was of both historic importance and contemporary relevance.

While the Church of England did not exist at the time of the 1222 Synod of Oxford, many see it as the leading voice of Christianity in the UK. Consequently, Tony Kushner, Professor of Jewish/non-Jewish relations at Southampton University, said that “the apology has some merit in recognising injustices that were done.

The UK’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, attended the service and praised it, whilst also reminding people that “we are on a journey” in terms of Christian-Jewish relations and there is much more that needs to be done. You can hear comments he made after the service in the YouTube video clip below.