A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
The Syria question
"Jewish groups backing President Obama’s call to strike Syria militarily are citing moral outrage and U.S. national security as primary considerations, but concern for Israel — however muted — also looms large in their thinking," reported JTA. Even though the U.S. hasn't yet authorized military action in Syria, Obama won some support among Jewish groups for his readiness to strike. For the few Jews still living in Syria, life goes on, and Rosh Hashana arrives during a precarious time.
During his message for a sweet new year, Pope Francis on Monday called for an investigation on the ban on Jewish and Muslim religious slaughter in Poland. They became illegal earlier this year under a controversial law. But it wasn't all serious chatter -- the Pope was presented with a Kiddush cup and a honey cake This was the Pope's first chance to get to know Jewish leaders since he took the helm.
A New York Times story earlier this week was highlighted by blogger MJ Rosenberg for removing a reference to AIPAC. "Obviously the White House and/or AIPAC did not want to be caught saying that the reason we are attacking Syria is to show AIPAC, the '800 pound gorilla,' that we are serious about the war the lobby really craves: Iran," wrote Rosenberg. "The role of journalism is not to kill special interest groups, but it is to shine a light on their activities—whatever the effect may be—especially as those activities bear on matters as grave as war and peace," said Ali Gharib at The Daily Beast. Some aren't as outraged. "But the whole thing is actually a misunderstanding. In fact, the quote still lives on the Times website, but in a different article. It appears the media hounds never did a full search of the Times website to find it," said Connor Simpson at The Atlantic Wire.
The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics estimates that the country's population has exceeded 8.081 million, which includes over 6 million Jews, or 75 percent of the overall population there. Over the past year, 163,000 babies were born in Israel, with the most popular baby names reportedly being Noa, Shira, Tamar, Talia, and Yael for girls, and Itai, Daniel, Ori, Yosef, and Noam for boys.
Rosh Hashana message
With the requisite new year viral videos out of the way, it's time to turn to the more serious side of the equation: What does Rosh Hashana 5774 mean? "It is simply a reminder, as old as Genesis itself, that we are more connected than we often realize, and that in reminding ourselves of those connections, we can find ways to make this year better than last – whatever calendar we happen to use," wrote Brad Hirschfield at The Washington Post. "I can't help feeling it's a more useful undertaking than nursing a hangover," added Peter Calder at The New Zealand Herald.