By Richard Ferrer, Editor Jewish News 

As Jewish year draws to a close, we hope the honey will be sweeter next time round. 

After all, it’s broadly been a bitter year.

We’ve had racism in football, both from the stands and from players, with one importing a particularly nasty racial slur from France, called the “quenelle”.

Nicholas Anelka's quenelle gesture effectively ended his career in the UK

Nicholas Anelka’s quenelle gesture effectively ended his career in the UK

We saw a deadly attack on the Jewish museum in Brussels in the spring, followed by the Gaza conflict during the summer and the subsequent anti-Semitic backlash that’s lasted well into autumn.

That anti-Israel feeling has spilled over into the targeting of Jews.

The (overturned) boycott of the UK Jewish Film Festival, the emptying of kosher food shelves and the sight of thousands marching behind banners proclaiming “Hitler was right”.

To many, 5774 will be a Jewish year best forgotten.

But look beyond recent headlines, and you’ll realise there were some brighter moments too.

It was a year of social action.

Synagogues spearheaded campaigns for breast cancer, Crohns, dementia and others.

Policymakers and charities began planning for a changing, ageing demographic. And organisations sought new ways to engage the next generation of British Jews in communal life.

A girl stands next to flowers at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. Photo: AP

A girl stands next to flowers at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. Photo: AP

It was also a year of breaking new ground, with the Chief Rabbi leading the way, treading a much-discussed path to the Limmud Conference, despite continued opposition to the event from Orthodox circles.

He will return again this December. And as the Chief Rabbi reflects on his first year, so too does JW3, the £50million Jewish cultural centre on Finchley Road, soon to merge with the LJCC, that already seems part of the furniture.

In education, fears of a leadership crisis were voiced by the headteachers and governors leading Jewish schools.

This acted as a catalyst and led to schools experimenting with alternative models, such as with executive headteachers who sit over two or more schools.

With record results in some areas for GCSEs and A-levels, there’s a lot to lose if it goes wrong. And, as ever, this was a year of huge debate, in particular over the legality or otherwise of words and phrases used towards and by Jews, both as an insult and a badge of honour.

Remember last October’s furore of the use of the Y-word at Tottenham Hotspur?

The use of the term was subject to a lot of controversy

The use of the term was subject to a lot of controversy

Having seen the sick Gaza-related slogans and tweets, threatening to jail Spurs fans for singing their nickname with pride now perhaps looks a little different.

So, what’s coming up in the next 12 months?

If the prime minister is good to his word, we can expect to see him visit Auschwitz, which we suspect will illicit a tweet or three from David Ward MP, George Galloway MP and the like, who will no doubt still be disgracing Parliament this time next year.

And, if the Board of Deputies finally gets round to it, we might see “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group Yachad voted into the wider Jewish family, as the Board itself braces for a merger with the Jewish Leadership Council.

There’s everything to play for as we look ahead to 5775, and the challenges it will throw up.

There’s much to do.

Israel’s operation in Gaza this summer may have dented its international reputation, but Israel remains a good news story, as is British Jewry.

They’re stories that – this year more than ever – need telling.

We look forward to playing our part.