ALMOST 50 Jewish worshippers of all ages attended York’s first regular Shabbat morning service in 40 years.

The participants included a couple of members of York’s last Synagogue, which closed in 1975.

Numbers were so much greater than expected that the service had to be moved from a room at the Friends Meeting House in Friargate to another, larger room.

Led by Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism, the service lasted about an hour, with participants ranging in age from two years old to people well into their eighties.

They included more than a dozen children, who were encouraged by Rabbi Rich to join in every aspect of the service, including helping to undress the Torah scroll. Other participants included students from the university and visitors to York.

The service was followed by a bring-and-share picnic in Rowntree Park, attended by about 30 people.

Services will now be held regularly on the second Saturday of each month at 11am in the Fox Room of the Meeting House.

Religious leaders are hoping to build a vibrant community in the city, scene of the infamous Clifford’s Tower massacre of 1190.

There are 200 known followers of the faith in York and undoubtedly many more associated with the two universities and teaching hospital, said spokesman Ben Rich, cousin of Rabbi Rich and former chief executive of the Movement for Reform Judaism, who recently moved to York.

He said that because of the city’s history, Jews had traditionally ‘kept their heads down’ in York, but there had always been a community, even in the aftermath of the Clifford’s Tower massacre, and the new service had been an ‘extraordinary success.’

For more information about the new services, email Ben at, telephone 07713 509134 or visit