A bowl of borscht -- a soup made of beets, and often topped with sour cream -- popular among immigrant American Jews. Image courtesy of Nillerdk via Wikimedia Commons.

A bowl of borscht — a soup made of beets, and often topped with sour cream — popular among immigrant American Jews. Image courtesy of Nillerdk via Wikimedia Commons. (Image source)

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President Obama arrives in New York City today for a U.N. General Assembly meeting where Syrian chemical weapons and Israeli/Palestinian negotiations top the agenda. He also might meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is trying to undo the damage of his Holocaust-denying predecessor.

But a group of Iranian-American Jews has declined to meet with Rouhani, noting that he dodged the question when asked if he believes the Holocaust is a historical fact.

An Egyptian court has banned the Muslim Brotherhood and ordered its assets seized, in an attempt to strangle the Muslim movement. Many fear the backlash could make bad matters worse.

Al-Shabab is looking strong in the wake of this weekend’s attack at a Nairobi mall. But some analysts counter that the al-Qaida-affiliated group is looking to generate headlines in Kenya because it has suffered great losses in its native Somalia, where it is failing to establish a harsh Islamist government.

American Somalis are condemning the attack amid reports that several of the Westgate Mall gunmen were Somali-American.

The AP gives us 10 things to know about Al-Shabab.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the Coptic Christian behind the incendiary anti-Muslim film “Innocence of Muslims,” which sparked riots around the world and which he tried to pass off as the work of Jews, is about to get out of jail on charges unrelated to the film.

Good Morning Quiz: Who just made the following public statement: “Where there is no work, there is no dignity.” A. Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers. B. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.) C. Pope Francis

Of course it’s Pope Francis. This is the Religion News Roundup. Given his recent focus on the poor and his own family’s immigrant history, Francis might enjoy Wesley Granberg-Michaelson’s column on immigrant Christian communities and how they are revitalizing American Christianity.

News from Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI (You know, Benedict. Think back . . . Seven months. He was pope. He resigned. Remember??) The retired pope has written a letter to an Italian newspaper asserting that he never covered up child abuse within the RCC.

Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University is on a $400 million, four-year spending spree. A few secrets of their success: recruiting oodles of online students and offering tenure to hardly anybody.

Abercrombie & Fitch, trying to dig itself out of its hijab hole, has modified its “look policy” to read, in effect, that employees can wear a headscarf and still comport with the Abercrombie “look.” This after a three-year legal battle against two hijab-wearing employees, Omar Sacirbey reports.

A Nashville-area school district now has a “no-field-trips-to-religious-institutions” policy after a teacher took a class to visit a mosque and Hindu temple as part of the world religions curricula. What’s next, a class trip to Abercrombie & Fitch?

I am a member of the last generation to go on family vacations to the Borscht Belt. The Forward chronicles one photographer’s homage to the great fallen Catskills resorts, a defining part of American Jewish culture.

Another “that’s an apology?” apology. This time from Virginia Republican party official John Whitbeck who, on the stump last week, made a joke about Jews giving the pope the bill for the Last Supper. His apology in short: I was trying to be funny. Some people took offense. I’m sorry they took offense.

Billboard Ministry: By year’s end, a Wisconsin trucker will have spent more than $750,000 in outdoor advertising to spread Christian messages, including “Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world.” Two thoughts: 1. This man is very dedicated to his faith. 2. Truckers make a lot more than I thought.

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- Lauren Markoe

Categories: Beliefs

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe covered government and features as a daily newspaper reporter for 15 years before joining the Religion News Service staff as a national correspondent in 2011. She previously was Washington correspondent for The State (Columbia, S.C.)


  1. Pope Benedict may not have covered up the sexual abuse in the catholic church but there sure were a lot of bishops that did! Why would he write that letter? Perhaps to absolve himself of blame? Sad.

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