The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis at the Western Wall, May 3, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Justin Welby and Ephraim Mirvis

The church issued the apology on the 800th anniversary of the passage of laws that led to the Jews’ expulsion.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

The Church of England formally apologized for discriminatory laws against Britain’s Jewish community 800 years ago at a special ceremony on Sunday.

The service, at Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral, was attended by Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and representatives of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. It was held on the 800th anniversary of the Synod of Oxford, which passed a number of discriminatory lawsthat led to the Jews’ expulsion.

Jews first arrived in England around 1070 during the reign of William the Conqueror.

In 1222, the Synod passed a series of laws against Jews which ultimately led to their expulsion in 1290. These included curbs on social interaction between Jews and Christians, restrictions on professions that Jews could enter, special tithes imposed on Jews and a prohibition on building new synagogues.

The Synod also required Jews to wear an identifying badge, the first time such a humiliating law was ever enacted.

The laws were later expanded to prohibit Jews from owning land or passing an inheritance to their children.

In 1290, an edict by King Edward I expelled Britain’s 3,000 Jews. They were later readmitted by Oliver Cromwell in 1656.

In a tweet on Sunday, Archbishop Welby stated that “Today’s service at Oxford Cathedral is an opportunity to remember, repent 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 neighbors.”

The Church of England was created in the 1530s, when King Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church. However, Jonathan Chaffey, archdeacon of Oxford said that it was appropriate for Christians to repent of their “shameful actions” and stressed that the Catholic Church was in “full accord” with apology, The Observer reported.