Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner has hit out at United Synagogue officials involved in her late father’s private stone-setting service at Willesden Cemetery, suggesting she was side-lined because she was a woman.
After an emotional day at her parents’ double-grave, she paid tribute to her father on Facebook, before describing the “bizarre and upsetting negotiation over the official part of the ceremony with the religious authorities who control the cemetery”.
On Wednesday, she wrote: “The process leading up to the stone setting was excruciating. It exacerbated rather than healed our very public pain.”
While praising the family’s rabbi, Reuven Livingstone, who is chaplain to the Armed Forces, she hit out at “unnecessarily harsh restrictions placed on my participation,” asking “whether it was because I am a woman – or this specific woman”.
Her brother Daniel spoke at length, she said, but “only after mustering considerable determination and many different conversations was I allowed ‘as a final concession’ to read out loud the words on my father’s stone”.
A spokesman for the United Synagogue said: “At a standard stone setting, the officiating Rabbi reads out the inscription as part of the service. In this case, we understand that the Rabbi agreed that the inscription could be read by a member of the family instead.”
He added: “As far as we are aware, there was no ‘negotiation’ about the format, and an exception was made in deference to the wishes of the mourners.”