Leading Reform rabbi says no to Thatcher funeral

Baroness Thatcher with Lord Jakobovits

Baroness Thatcher with Lord Jakobovits

Britain's leading Reform rabbi will not attend Baroness Thatcher's funeral today because of her opposition to the former prime minister's politics.

Although the Reform movement will be represented by Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, chairman of the assembly of Reform rabbis UK, Laura Janner-Klausner has declined her invitation.

According to the Times, she said she could not honour the former leader "because I think that she was a cataclysm for the fabric of Britain."

"I love society, I love community. My lifeblood is community," she said. "The thing [in her] that clashes with who I am is a disdain for weakness."

The rabbi, who is the daughter of Labour peer Lord Janner, added that as rabbi she attended and officiated the funerals of congregants with whom she disagreed.

"This is completely my personal view," she said. "The funeral is about her family and friends having the time and space to honour her properly. My task was to ensure that the Reform movement would be represented, which it will be."

While Rabbi Janner-Klausner will not attend the ceremony at St Paul's today, at the request of the Thatcher family the Chief Rabbi will be present. He spoke on Radio Four's Thought For the Day this morning and shared his memories of the Conservative politician, recalling how she helped him with homework when he was a schoolboy and she was his constituency MP.

"She was always willing to help a 15-year-old schoolboy whose political affiliation she didn't know and who wouldn't even have a vote for another six years," he said.

Other communal figures, including Israeli ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub, and the director of Conservative Friends of Israel, Stuart Polak, will also be there. Baroness Thatcher, who was MP for Finchley, served as president of North London branch of CFI. Vivian Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies, is also on the guest list.

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu is flying in for the funeral, while former Soviet Natan Sharansky will also be there, as will Jewish former cabinet minister Sir Malcolm Rifkind and former US Secretary of State Dr Henry Kissinger.

Last updated: 11:31am, April 17 2013