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Modern Lincolnshire Jewish Community
There was a Jewish Community in Lincoln in the Middle Ages until
the expulsion of the Jews in 1290.
It is possible that religious services were held in the same room
as that in which they are held now in Jews Court on Steep Hill.
The Ark that forms a central feature of the room in which the services
take place, with its Star of David on the doors, probably housed
the scrolls in earlier times too.
The first Sabbath service in modern times was held on the 12th September
1992 and on the 22nd September 1996 the plaque which you can see
in Jews Court was unveiled.
community now it is small but vigorous and holds services on the
first and the third Sabbath of each month as well as on the High
Holy Days. They are conducted by the community's lay readers and
sometimes by invited lay readers or Rabbis.
Any Jews who would like to get in touch with the community and participate
in the services are welcome to contact E.B.Weil on 01526 378574.
will see below photographs of one of the community's lay readers
about to read from the scroll, and also holding the scroll up for
the congregation after the reading. There is also a photograph of
the Ark with the tablets containing the Ten Commandments next to
One of the most unpleasant libels about Jews in Lincoln in the middle
ages concerns the alleged murder of little Hugh. Some facts about
this are given below.
The Murder of Little Hugh
On 27th August 1255 in Lincoln, Hugh an eight-year-old boy disappeared
whilst out playing. His mother raised the alarm and after a long
search, Hugh's body was found at the bottom of the well. People
accused the Jews of murdering the child and using his blood to make
matzos for Passover. This was a ridiculous accusation since the
consumption of blood, even animal blood, is strictly forbidden under
Jewish law and Passover occurs in March/April not in August.
ninety Jews were arrested, tortured and imprisoned in the tower
of London. The Franciscan Friars tried to plead their case in court,
but eighteen Jews were executed and the rest kept imprisoned for
months until the Jewish community from all over England had raised
a massive sum to ransom them.
Why were the Jews falsely accused?
Several Popes and Christian leaders as early as the thirteenth century
denounced the blood libels as nonsense and forbade Christians to
accuse Jews of ritual murder, but it made little difference for
there was another motive involve - money.
Money lending was forbidden by the Christian church, but it
was one of the few professions they permitted Jews to follow and
many people owed money to the Jews, including the authorities of
Lincoln Cathedral. At that time all Jews were servi camerae (chattels
of the king) so any money owed to them was technically owed to the
throne. But King Henry III, desperate for money had sold his rights
over the Jews to the Duke of Cornwall. The only way could get his
hands on their money was to have them convicted of a capital offence
because the property of anyone executed was forfeit to the king.
It is no coincidence that those hanged were among the wealthiest
Jews in England. It also suited local people to accuse the Jews
since it gave them the opportunity to ransack their houses and destroy
the records of debt.
In 1911, Mr Dodgson who then owned Jews Court on Steep Hill,
Lincoln charged visitors 3d to see the well in the basement of Jews
Court, claiming it was the very well Little Hugh had been found
in. Plenty of people bought a ticket, but they were duped for not
only was there no connection between Jews Court and Little Hugh,
but the well had only been dug in 1910 by Harry Staples of Hereward
Street, Lincoln, on Mr Dodgson's instructions.