The Jewish traditions that Starmer could bring to Downing Street

Keir Starmer’s wife Victoria is Jewish, and the Prime Minister has said he holds Shabbat dinners every week


Victorious: Labour leader Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria Starmer (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

When Keir Starmer makes the move to Number 10 following his landslide victory, the Prime Minister’s official residence will house a Jewish family for the first time in recent history.

Starmer’s wife, Victoria, has kept a relatively low profile throughout her husband’s campaign. The former solicitor was born to a Jewish father with Polish ancestry, and her mother converted to the faith.

The couple are raising their children with a strong awareness of their Jewish heritage.

Keir Starmer has regularly spoken about the importance of Judaism to his family, and has shared that Friday night dinners are a tradition. Shabbat is a “rock in the week,” he has said.

The new Prime Minister has said he is keen to raise children who “regognise the faith of part of their grandfather’s family,” and Shabbat dinners are an important part of that. “Every week there’s a challah, and we say kiddush,” Starmer said of his family’s traditions.

Earlier this week, Rishi Sunak criticised Starmer for saying that as Prime Minister, he would still take the evening off on Fridays – something which Starmer suggested was insensitive and had antisemitic undertones. “I would have thought to anybody it’s blindingly obvious that a Friday night is quite important in some religions and faiths,” he said.

Victoria Starmer’s faith has come into sharper focus politically since October 7. “Half of [my wife’s] family are Jewish, they’re either here or in Israel,” he said. Speaking about the massacre, the Prime Minister shared that “Thank God” none of his wife’s family were directly affected, but that there was “no doubt” they were impacted.

Shortly after the attacks, Starmer expressed his “deep sense of shock” at the rise in antisemitism in the UK. “We stand by Jewish communtiies here, and we stand by Israel internationally,” he said. He also criticised the BBC for their refusal to label Hamas as terrorists. Terrorism is “obviously what we are witnessing,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s commitment to standing with Israel has impacted his family, making them targets for Pro-Palestine groups throughout his campaign. In April, a court heard that Victoria Starmer was “effectively forced out of her own home” after demonstators protested outside the Starmers’ North London home. The former solicitor was “intimidated and scared” by the actions of the protestors, the prosecutor said.

Combating antisemitism, and standing with the Jewish community, have been an important part of Starmer’s “changed” Labour Party. This has triggered a 50 point swing to Labour among Jewish voters.

The Conservatives still have a slight lead in the Jewish community, with more Jews trusting Sunak than Starmer. Even with his wife bringing Judaism to Downing Street, Keir Starmer still has a way to go in gaining the support and trust of Jews in the UK.

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