Photo Credit: Reuters/Peter Andrews
U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (next to Senator John McCain) visit the Kotel, in Jerusalem on March 19, 2008.

“From Joseph to Joseph there is no one like Joseph.” – Matt Lieberman at his father’s funeral.

Throughout Jewish history, there have been only three Torah-observant Jews who have risen to the highest levels of government outside of Israel – Joe Lieberman is one of those Jews.


Few political figures stand out for their unique combination of devout faith, exceptional leadership, and trailblazing achievements in public service as does Senator Joseph Lieberman. His American journey reflects an extraordinary commitment not just to the American people but also to his Jewish faith, embodying the essence of a “frum Jewish” leader in the modern era. His legacy is a beacon of integrity, service, and devout faithfulness, challenging us to consider how we too can live our values authentically – through a kiddush Hashem.

As the highest-ranking Torah-observant elected official since Mordechai HaTzaddik, his story is not just remarkable; it’s historic. His candidacy for Vice President in 2000, though ending in a court decision against his ticket despite winning the popular vote by 500,000 votes, showcased his graciousness and humility—a hallmark of his character.

“My father wasn’t Mister Rogers.” – Rebecca Lieberman.

It’s easy to overlook Senator Lieberman’s political achievements because he was such a mentch. But as his daughter Rebecca pointed out at his funeral, Senator Lieberman was among the most sophisticated political officials of our last century. He rose to chair the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and is literally responsible for reforming the way intelligence is processed in a post-9/11 world by creating the Department of Homeland Security. Thanks to Senator Lieberman, our country hasn’t had a 9/11-style attack since 9/11.

“On Saturdays, during the long, excruciating 36-day process after Election Day and before the Supreme Court decision, Joe would walk over to the Vice President’s residence at the Naval Observatory. To observe the stars, but to observe the Sabbath together. And it was a time of real comfort and perspective.” – Vice President Al Gore eulogizing Senator Lieberman.

Beyond his political achievements, Senator Lieberman deeply influenced the Jewish community and broader society’s understanding of how faith can coexist in public life. Not only was the Senator proudly Shomer Shabbos – famously refusing to even accept his political nomination on Shabbos – his book on Shabbos, The Gift of Rest, invited all to appreciate the beauty of Shabbos and the deep personal renewal it offers. In fact, the single most recurring theme by the multitude of senators, governors and ambassadors at Senator Lieberman’s funeral this past week is how much respect they had for the Senator’s Shabbos observance.

As a young frum staffer working for the Senator, I had the good fortune of spending several Shabbosim with Senator Lieberman and his family. What stood out to me the most was his exemplary care for his children and his extraordinary marriage with Hadassah, a partnership that stood as a testament to mutual respect, love, and admiration. Hadassah, a true eishes chayil, was not just a supportive spouse but a formidable presence in her own right. Her role was central, not only in supporting Senator Lieberman’s public endeavors but in ensuring he remained grounded amidst the pressures of political life. This balance and humility were critical to his service, reflecting the shared values and ordinary, profound aspects of life that extend beyond the public arena. Her influence was a grounding force, reminding him – and through his example, us – of the importance of staying true to one’s principles and humanity amidst the challenges of leadership.

“We will build generations of G-d fearing Jews who will continue in your traditions.” – Chanie Lieberman, Senator Lieberman’s youngest daughter.

As we reflect on Senator Lieberman’s life, his daughter Chanie’s public commitment to continuing her father’s traditions reminds us of the enduring impact of his legacy. Every one of Senator Lieberman’s children is involved in public service, and they are all proudly Jewish. Watching Chanie’s children – Senator Lieberman’s grandchildren – walking around solemnly at the funeral with their tzitzis hanging out reminded us that Senator Lieberman was able to do what few were able to do: remain true to his faith and create a next generation of Torah-observant Jews. That is the ultimate kiddush Hashem. Very few Jewish elected leaders over the generations have risen to the highest levels of government, even fewer have done it while maintaining Torah observance, and even fewer have grandchildren that walk the walk the way Senator Lieberman did.

Senator Lieberman inspired a generation of Jewish activists, just like me, who saw firsthand that the American dream was possible – not only can we participate in government without giving up your faith, but we can celebrate our faith and America will celebrate with us.

In short, he taught us how to make a kiddush Hashem. For that, we will always be grateful.


Previous articleWoodrow Wilson: Philosemite And Zionist
Next articleIsrael Labels Herodium Park State Land
David G. Greenfield, CEO of Met Council, is an adjunct law professor at Brooklyn Law School and former NYC Council Member who started his political career as a staffer to Senator Joe Lieberman on Capitol Hill.