Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Ben-Gurion and the debate over Winston Churchill's funeral

    Winston Churchill (Photo: British Government)
    Winston Churchill (Photo: British Government)

    Representatives of the Jewish world including the chief rabbi and the Israeli prime minister will be at St Paul's today to bid farewell to Britain's longest serving prime minister.

    In attending the funeral of Baroness Thatcher, the Israeli prime minister is following a precedent set by Israeli statesmen when Winston Churchill died.

    When the wartime leader died and was given a state funeral, both David Ben-Gurion and then-president Zalman Shazar flew to London to pay their respects.

    According to a JC report of the funeral, the Israelis stayed in a hotel "about a mile away" from St Paul's cathedral, where – as with Baroness Thatcher – the service was held.

    Tributes were read out at Orthodox, Reform and Liberal shuls across the UK that weekend.

    "Jewish leaders and organisations all over the country have sent heartfelt messages of sympathy to Lady Churchill," the report added. "Expressing deep sorrow at the death of the great leader of the fight against Nazism and despotism."

    The JC revealed that the decision to hold the funeral on a Shbbat led to debate over what Israel and Jewish representatives should do. "There were two problems – the fact that Jewish law does not permit attendance at a funeral on a Saturday and the strain which walking from Westminster, where the body of Sir Winston has been lying in State since Wednesday, would impose on the President, who is 76."

    Along with the Israeli politicians, Israeli journalists from seven papers came to London for the funeral.

    Although it appears there was some debate at the time, the then-chief rabbi Israel Brodie did attend the service, staying for Shabbat at The Savoy hotel so he could be there.

    According to former Board of Deputies president Lionel Kopelowitz, as detailed in a 2010 letter to the JC, "Jewish public opinion soon made it clear that it expected the Chief Rabbi to attend in person. Rabbi Brodie bowed to this opinion... and walked with Israel’s President Shazar to the Cathedral."

Uk News

Dublin to fly Palestinian flag

Ben Weich

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Dublin to fly Palestinian flag
Uk News

Government drops pledge to aid 3,000 child refugees

Rosa Doherty

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Government drops pledge to aid 3,000 child refugees
Uk News

Limmud: Food for thought at session on 'ethical eating'

By Simon Rocker

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Limmud: Food for thought at session on 'ethical eating'
Uk News

Livingstone decision shameful, says Tom Watson

Lee Harpin and Marcus Dysch

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Livingstone decision shameful, says Tom Watson
Uk News

Anti-Israel conference faces delay

Lee Harpin

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Anti-Israel conference faces delay
Uk News

Commission criticised over inquiry into 'antisemitic' charity

Daniel Sugarman

Monday, December 5, 2016

Commission criticised over inquiry into 'antisemitic' charity
Uk News

Strictly Orthodox Ukip candidate 'should not run for office'

Marcus Dysch

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Strictly Orthodox Ukip candidate 'should not run for office'
Special Reports

Dublin benefits from overseas aid

Barry Toberman

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Dublin benefits from overseas aid
Uk News

Luciana Berger troll driven by 'fierce antisemitism'

JC Reporter

Monday, December 5, 2016

Luciana Berger troll driven by 'fierce antisemitism'