My Week in Writing

After last week’s front-page story about new research into the scale of the Holocaust, it was another week spent delving back in time – back to the 1860s, in fact. A new exhibition has opened in Edinburgh featuring photographs of the Prince of Wales’ trip to the Middle East in 1862, and with it his journal of the period has been published.

The diary was full of insights about his time in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, and it prompted me to look back into the JC archives to explore how the paper covered it and what the community felt about his trip. It turned out there was great interest, with readers expressing hope that the prince’s presence would lead to progress on an intractable issue.

Researching for that piece also led me to a short report about Passover and the cost of goods for families in 1862 – a problem that readers maintain remains today. The clipping formed the basis for an opinion piece, in which I considered how far the community has come since then, but at the same time how many things have not changed.

Elsewhere, I analysed the latest trade figures for the UK and Israel, noting in particular the growth in the trade of pharmaceutical and medical goods. I also reported on a planned demonstration against Uefa in May, and on a project in East Anglia to study forgotten poetry of the Holocaust.

Keeping with the literary theme, I covered the fact that five of the long-listed authors for the annual Women’s Prize for Fiction are Jewish, including Francesca Segal, whose novel the Innocents I reviewed last year, and an American novelist called Deborah Copaken Kogan. Writing about her novel sparked my interest, and I am now midway through the book and very much enjoying it so far.

I also covered the anniversary of Shlomo Argov’s death, marked at a ceremony hosted by John Bercow, and on a sweet – if slightly unlikely – campaign set up by a group of students in Prague urging the Nobel Committee to recognise a British Holocaust hero. In foreign news I covered the app that has been launched to accompany president Obama’s trip to Israel – where, incidentally, he will not be eating any bread.

Elsewhere, I blogged about Sheryl Sandberg’s new book for Running in Heels, arguing that while her mission is admirable, we’d be better served if she went on the campaign trail. And for Optima Magazine, I discussed whether witches are the new vampires, given the plethora of films about black-hatted sorceresses out at the moment.

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