DOZENS of school children from across the country converged on York to take part in a religious ceremony at the site of an ancient cemetery.

Jewish schoolchildren from as far away as London, Gateshead and Manchester assembled to pray today (July 8) in Jewbury in York which is the site of a medieval Jewish cemetery holding 5,000 bodies.

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The cemetery which was in use from 1175-1290 and holds among it's number about 150 people who were massacred across the city in Clifford's Tower in 1190, is on land currently occupied by Foss Bank Sainsbury's and the car park bordering Jewbury opposite the Bar Walls.

The site has hit headlines recently as reported in The Press at the time, Sainsbury’s said its store in Foss Bank will close at the end of its lease in January 2025.

Argo Real Estate, the owners of the Foss Bank site since 2017, said that both the supermarket lease and the lease of neighbouring GO Outdoors will lapse at the same time and they intend to regenerate and redevelop the site.

Children praying next to a commemerative plaqueChildren praying next to a commemorative plaque (Image: Haydn Lewis)

A petition, which began on March 29, has gathered hundreds of signatures online calling on the supermarket’s landlord to ‘re-consider their decision and renew the lease to Sainsbury’s in the interests of local residents and the supermarket’s staff.’

Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE led a survive at the site today and alongside Howard Duckworth, warden of the York Synagogue, spoke to The Press.

"This is the largest medieval Jewish graveyard in Europe," said Mr Duckworth.

"The graveyard should revert to its original function, especially considering the historic injustices done to Jews in the city," said Rabbi Gluck.

"We think the city of York has a moral duty to see that the site is preserved.

"I'm sure the people of York would be on our side - this isn't just a Jewish issue, it's a York issue," said the Rabbi.

"The plans to build on the site are just as ridiculous as if someone put a proposal to planning to take York Minster down to put a commercial development there."

Rabbi Herschel Gluck and Howard Duckworth at the site in JewburyRabbi Herschel Gluck and Howard Duckworth at the site in Jewbury (Image: Haydn Lewis)

A spokesperson for Argo Real Estate has previously told The Press: “Following discussions with all parties, the leases for Sainsbury’s and GO Outdoors end in January 2025 and they will both be vacating the site.

“This is a key gateway site for York and our vision for this exciting transformation will result in its regeneration including the introduction and improvement of public realm and further enhancement of the local environment, as well as the potential for retail space within the masterplan.”

For further information on the development plans go to