Jewish Group Tells Joe Lieberman to Do Teshuvah


liebermanJulia Duin reports:  Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s Philadelphia-based Shalom Center is telling Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, to do teshuvah, repent. The action was taken in a “Jewish letter of rebuke” from the center. 

The 1,950 Jewish signers of a petition at told Mr. Lieberman that he was violating the Torah by opposing provisions in the bill for public option and Medicare coverage at the age of 55.

“A lot of people in the Jewish community were outraged,” Rabbi Waskow, the petition’s orginator, told me when I called this afternoon. “It is very unusual for 150 rabbis and 1,800 people to protest. Lots of the signatories are leaders of Jewish organizations, and a lot are Jews in the pews. This has to do with health care for the lower and lower-middle classes.”

However, Mr. Lieberman, Connecticut independent, joined 40 Republicans in opposing the bill until those provisions were dropped earlier this week.

Here is the letter:


We are rabbis, cantors, and other committed Jews. Many of us were delighted in 2000 when you were nominated for Vice-President and proclaimed to all that you were an observant Jew, carrying into the highest level of public service the values of the Jewish people.

Now we see with deep distress that you have announced that you will not support the bill before the Senate to bring health care in America even part way toward the universal and affordable coverage that is assumed in every other industrial country, including Israel. You have announced that you intend to join a quasi-filibuster against even taking an up-and-down vote on the bill if it contains either a “public option” provision or one extending the universally praised Medicare system to some younger people.

Doing this would thwart the will of a majority of the Senate, the majority of the American people, and the majority of the American Jewish community.

In our eyes, this is not the behavior of an “observant” Jew. “Tzedek tzedek tirdof, justice justice shall you seek,” is among the Torah’s most important commandments. And in pursuit of justice, no autonomous Jewish community has ever allowed the poor to go without healing. It is clear that the present health insurance system based on private insurance companies is broken in every aspect except assuring enormous profits to itself. It costs Americans the highest medical costs in the world while providing mediocre health care as measured by life expectancies, newborn death rates, and other indices across the developed world.

We recognize that major health insurance companies are headquartered in Connecticut and that you may view your obligations to them as constituents as an important political responsibility. Yet thousands of Americans die each year unnecessarily because they are refused coverage by or are unable to purchase insurance from these same companies.

So we believe your obligation of pekuach nefesh, saving life, saving the lives of the flesh-and-blood citizens of Connecticut, shaped in flesh and blood in God’s Image and subject to damage of that same flesh and blood that requires healing, is an even higher obligation than you owe to your insurance-company constituents. Indeed, two-thirds of your flesh-and-blood constituents support a health-care bill that includes a strong public option.

We therefore call you to do tshuvah – to turn yourself again toward fulfilling the commands of Torah and meeting the needs of the American people. Then we will be happy once again that you are bringing the values of an “observant Jew” to the public service of the American people.

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  1. Why is a frum website quoting a shaygetz like Waskow and a Mushuggener shaygetz too. the following is the wikpedia description of his orginization:
    The term Jewish Renewal describes “a set of practices within Judaism that attempt to reinvigorate what it views as a moribund and uninspiring Judaism with mystical, Hasidic, musical and meditative practices drawn from a variety of traditional and untraditional, Jewish and other, sources. In this sense, Jewish renewal is an approach to Judaism that can be found within segments of any of the Jewish denominations.”[cite this quote]

    The term also refers to an emerging Jewish movement, the Jewish Renewal movement, which describes itself as “a worldwide, transdenominational movement grounded in Judaism’s prophetic and mystical traditions.”[1] The Jewish Renewal movement incorporates social views such as feminism, environmentalism and pacifism.

    The movement’s most prominent leader is Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Prominent leaders, teachers and authors associated with Jewish Renewal include Arthur Waskow and Michael Lerner.

    Jewish Renewal brings kabbalistic and Hasidic theory and practice into a non-Orthodox, egalitarian framework, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as neo-Hasidism. Like Hasidic Jews, Renewal Jews often add to traditional worship ecstatic practices such as meditation, chant and dance. In augmenting Jewish ritual, some Renewal Jews borrow freely and openly from Buddhism, Sufism and other faiths.

    Can you get any crazier?

  2. This may be a group of Jews, but there is nothing Jewish about their values or practices. They should be the ones doing Teshuva.

  3. These Jewish apikorsum belong to a Reform Church.
    The title “rabbi” does not belong in this article.

    P.S. I am far far from being a fan of Sen. Lieberman.

  4. I for ona, as an Orthodox Jew Thank You Mr. Lieberman for opposing this bill. I oppose you for now voting for it. However, soon I’ll be Mochel you for that too.