In an historic meeting, York has welcomed Rabbi Dr Elisheva Salamo as she begins her new role as the spiritual leader of York’s Jewish community.
Rabbi Elisheva was appointed earlier this month by York Liberal Jewish Community.
It aims to provide a friendly and inclusive home to any residents, students, and visitors to the city and its wider hinterland who identify as Jewish.
The appointment is an especially significant moment in the city’s history, since Rabbi Elisheva will be York’s first resident Rabbi since the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290.
With the YLJC community going from strength to strength, the time was right to appoint its own resident Rabbi to meet the spiritual and educational needs of its growing community.
The arrival of Rabbi Elisheva coincides with research by the University of York which sheds light on York’s thriving Jewish community in the 13th century, including the homes of several leading Jewish citizens and the location of the city’s first synagogue.
This shows that the Jewish population of York had rebuilt a community in York in the years following the March 1190 massacre at Clifford’s Tower, when more than 150 Jews died trying to save themselves from a violent antisemitic mob.
The council’s executive member for equalities, Cllr Katie Lomas, joined the Lord Mayor to welcome Rabbi Elisheva and York’s Liberal Jewish Community’s chair Lilian Coulson to York’s Mansion House on Tuesday 5 September.
Rabbi Dr Salamo, who is originally from California, has previously worked in the United States, Switzerland and South Africa, and is an advocate of interfaith dialogue and social action.
In her new role, she will lead York’s Jewish community in worship, leading YLJC’s full programme of High Holiday services and events throughout the Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) period.
The Lord Mayor of York Cllr Chris Cullwick said: “I was delighted to invite Rabbi Elisheva to the Mansion House to welcome her to our wonderful city and to express my delight at this significant milestone for the Jewish community in York.
“I hope she quickly feels at home here and I very much look forward to working with her.”
Rabbi Dr Elisheva said: “I am honoured and privileged to become York’s first Progressive Rabbi, working with the existing community to develop our programme of learning and worship for all age groups, to encourage and inspire those who wish to live a modern Jewish life in harmony with our neighbours and Interfaith friends.
“We share values with so many and, as our community grows, we look forward to welcoming new members from within York and from wider Yorkshire, as we continue to enjoy working with you and standing together in this City of Sanctuary.”