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That time when Joe Lieberman brought a Jewish surprise to breakfast


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When Ted Deutch, the former congressman who now heads the American Jewish Committee, broke the news Wednesday that Joe Lieberman had died, many in his audience — a group of Philadelphia Jewish day school supporters — gasped.

Deutch went on to praise Lieberman, the former senator, as a model of a proudly Jewish public servant. But he also told a story about him, the first Jew to run on a major party’s national ticket, that drew laughs.

Lieberman, Deutch said, preferred home hospitality to hotels, and was visiting South Florida in September 2003 as a candidate for president. Deutch and his wife, Jill Weinstock, invited Lieberman to spend the night at their house. He accepted and the family ran out to buy a new sofa bed for a room that they would thereafter call the “Lieberman Suite.”

In the morning, the Deutch continued, Lieberman took a swim in the family’s pool. Then, toting a shofar — the ancient instrument whose sound is supposed to rouse Jews to prayer during the High Holidays — joined the couple and their three young children at breakfast.

Lieberman then “proceeded to blow the shofar at our dining room table,” said Deutch, who choked up telling the story and apologized to those who attended the event for the Barrack Hebrew Academy. He called it “one of the most meaningful moments” for his family, and said it inspired him to launch his career in public service.

Deutch was later elected to the Florida State Senate, and to Congress in 2010.

Lieberman that morning, Deutch said, demonstrated how one lives “both a proud Jew and someone so deeply involved in the leadership of our country.”

Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000 chose Lieberman as his running mate. They won the popular vote in one of the most controversial elections in U.S. history. The Supreme Court in a controversial 5-4 decision ruled that George W. Bush had won.

Senator Joe Lieberman was a towering figure in the Jewish world, a dignified public servant, a mentor and inspiration to me, and a respected friend to our family.

At tonight’s beautiful @BarrackJBHA gathering in Philadelphia, I reflected on our community’s loss.

May Senator… pic.twitter.com/bsKL5tJCYp

— Ted Deutch, CEO of American Jewish Committee (@AJCCEO) March 28, 2024

The post That time when Joe Lieberman brought a Jewish surprise to breakfast appeared first on The Forward.