Living His Faith: Lieberman and His Legacy


joe-lieberman-menachem-genackBy Rabbi Menachem Genack

Joe Lieberman is a path-breaker not only for Jews, but also for Judaism. He showed his fellow Americans that one can be both a traditionally observant Jew and, at the same time, a fully engaged citizen and public servant. With grace and dignity, he skillfully navigated between the religious and secular worlds, elevating the image of Judaism in the process.

Lieberman’s commitment to Torah informed much of what he did, including in public policy. He spoke the language of faith and lived his faith publicly, making him a role model for Jews and non-Jews alike. In particular, he showed that it was possible to observe the Sabbath while fulfilling his duties as a senator.

Lieberman has recounted how, during the 2000 election, Al Gore told him he admired how he could disengage and contemplate on Shabbat and wished he could do the same on Sunday. “It’s okay,” Lieberman quipped, “I’ll watch the country on Sunday. You watch it on Saturday.”

Rabbi Menachem Genack is CEO of OU Kosher.

{The Forward/}


  1. “He showed his fellow Americans that one can be both a traditionally observant Jew and, at the same time, a fully engaged citizen and public servant.”

    There still remains the question as to just what degree of participation a ben Torah should have in the government of our host country. We must never forget that this is the American phase of what is still golus, and that we’re merely temporary residents here. And so we must always ask ourselves: how deeply involved in the public arena should an Orthodox Jew become?

    In light of this question, it is my conviction that Al Gore lost the presidency (in that bizarre 2000 election, with its ‘hanging chads’) because he had Joe Lieberman as his running mate. In a rare historical anomaly, the man who LOST the popular vote (George Bush) became president anyway. I humbly suggest that this is because the Ribbono shel Olam was not going to allow an Orthodox Jew to be in such a high-profile position of power in a malchus of golus. This would have been disastrous for us, for any unpopular position — on a national scale, mind you — would have been blamed on the “Jew” who had the president’s ear.

    So, kol hakavod to Joe Lieberman for what he has accomplished in his career…but thank G-d he was never in the position of being but a “heartbeat away from the presidency.” This we did not, and do not, need.

  2. I dont live in Conencticut, but I dont undertsand why he is not running again. WOuld he really lose? He’s been there so logn. I cant imagine he would actaully lose.
    And what’s he gona do now after he retires?

  3. Even though I disagreed with a lot of Senator Lieberman’s policies, he was a consummate mench. Also, when I started keeping Shabbos in middle school, around the 2000 election, I took great strength knowing how a man running for a job a heartbeat away from the presidency publicly made known his refusal to campaign on Shabbos koidesh! A great kiddush-Hashem.

  4. Any time a public Jewish figure is known to keep the sabbath, a righteous memory is created that lasts forever. That is the first thing that I found remarkable about Mr. Lieberman.

  5. I like Lieberman. He seems good on some aspects of foreign policy, but other than that, supports the liberal line unquestioningly. I believe he also supported the START Treaty.

    Lieberman legislates according to Democrat values.

  6. “Are you aware how many of our Rabbanim and Mechaber Sefarim were members of the Polish Parliament?”

    Yes indeed, I’m very well aware that frum Jews sat in the Polish Parliament before WWII. And just how well did that work out? Oh, yeah… Polish Jewry was annihilated and Poland became the principal killing grounds for the holocaust. Thanks for making my point.