In Christian Britain the followers of the Jewish religion, or Judaism, have historically had a mixed welcome. They see Jesus Christ (who would have been Jewish) as nothing more than a preacher and their holy text is the first five books of the Old Testament, from which a list of over 600 commandments has been derived.

Jewish merchants and bankers from western Europe did not arrive until after the Norman Conquest of 1066. However, further bad feeling was generated by their money-lending activities and their apparent wealth. This culminated in a massacre in 1190 of all Jews then living in York. By 1290 the Jewish population had been expelled from the country and it was not until almost four centuries later that they were allowed to return. It is said that this was partly because some Christians thought that a Jewish presence was a prerequisite for the second coming of Christ.

The Jews Relief Act of 1858 gave those professing the Jewish religion all the rights of British subjects. Since then there have been arrivals from eastern Europe ~ during and after WW2, for instance. There are around 260,000 followers of Judaism in the UK. The largest community is in London, with others in Manchester and Gateshead.

(Image: David Dixon at geograph.org.uk / CC BY-SA 2.0)

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