Keir Starmer tells of the impact of Oct 7 on family in Israel

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Keir Starmer tells of the impact of Oct 7 on family in Israel

In interview with the Guardian, the Labour leader says:'Half of the family are Jewish, they’re either here or in Israel'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Keir Starmer with wife Victoria at Taylor Swift concert at Wembley Stadium
Keir Starmer with wife Victoria at Taylor Swift concert at Wembley Stadium

Keir Starmer has spoken for the first time about the impact of the October 7th Hamas terror attack and Israel’s response in Gaza on his and wife Victoria’s family.

In an interview with the Guardian, the Labour leader said:”Half of the family are Jewish, they’re either here or in Israel.”

Starmer added that “Thank God” nobody was directly affected by the Hamas atrocity, but asked if they had been impacted by the war, he said there was “no doubt about that.”

Speaking to interviewer Charlotte Edwardes, the Labour leader also appeared to hint at historic issues around his Jewish father-in-law Bernard’s marriage to his late wife Barbara, who converted to Judaism.

Edwardes noted that this makes “Victoria Jewish and his children too.”

Keir Starmer is joined on stage at Labour conference by his wife Vic

Appearing to use an Orthodox definition of Judaism, Starmer is quoted as responding:” “No, no, they’re not Jewish for reasons I won’t bore you with. Bernard’s dad’s family didn’t accept that.”

But in the interview he goes on to stress how important Jewish heritage is to the family now. Occasionally attending a liberal synagogue, Starmer says that “pretty much every week” they buy challah on Shabbat.

The Guardian also reports that they “say kiddush with Bernard or sometimes with Victoria’s sister on Zoom.”  

Starmer stresses again that the children’s Jewish heritage is important, and he and wife Victoria are keen for them to understand it.

He was photographed alongside his wife attending the Taylor Swift concert at Wembley Stadium.

The Starmer’s belong to St John’s Wood Liberal Synagogue. Barbara, his mother-in law, passed away while he was campaigning to be leader of the Labour Party, following a car crash.

“It’s been a terrible year for my wife and her family,” Starmer told Limmud, in December 2020.

The recently published book on Starmer’s life, written by Tom Baldwin, noted how Starmer had taken his family to their synagogue close to Lords cricket ground with his devastated father-in-law Bernard following the death of his wife “to hear her name read out, as is the Jewish custom for those who have passed away.”

The book also said Starmer still recalls “with a shudder” conversations with congregants at St Johns Wood Liberal Synagogue who told him they could no longer vote Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership “because they were Jewish.”

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