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Home > News & Politics > U.S. > Lieberman & Kesher Israel, part 2

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Lieberman & Kesher Israel, part 2

Special to
November 15, 2000

WASHINGTON—The common wisdom was that Joe would not be at shul after the no-doubt exhausting events of the past week. But a block away from Kesher I saw his "car" - that is, the secret service's big black Ford Bronco that trails behind the Senator as he walks to and from shul. The atmosphere in the shul was one of personal support transcending political affiliation, tempered by a congregation-wide effort not to bother the Senator.

There were also a number of major events occurring at the shul-an auf ruf, a bat mitzvah, and a baby naming. I was a little concerned that in the flurry of activity the secret service might not have been told about the candy throwing tradition after the chatan's reading of the haftorah; that could have been a bad scene.

Rabbi Freundel read the bracha for the country, adding in "and whoever its leaders may be." The rabbi opened his speech by noting that in the months since Senator Lieberman had been chosen to run for vice president the rabbi had been preparing this week's speech. He prepared the winning speech and the losing speech; but he did not prepare a speech for what actually happened. He then compared the current election status to a tied Super Bowl where the players watch as the ball is kicked for a field goal as time is expiring. The grueling seconds the players have to wait has been expanded for days and possibly weeks for the candidates in this election.

He suggested the way to extricate oneself from the limbo of waiting was to focus on the day to day important lifecycle events - as so aptly encapsulated by the simchot we were celebrating that week in shul. The rabbi also evoked a second metaphor; he noted that when Saul and David were appointed king it was some time between their annointment and when they actually assumed the monarchy. The Rabbi noted that the accomplishment of having a Jewish leader elected to one of the highest offices in the country might have to wait a few weeks or even another election cycle or two.

The President of the synagogue noted that a few weeks ago, on Sukkot, we read Kohelet in which Shlomo states "ein chadash tachat hashemesh" - there is nothing new under the sun. He noted that even Solomon might conclude this election was something new. He also noted that in the past week Senator Lieberman's daughter won her class vice presidency through a landslide requiring no re-count.

The bat mitzvah girl spoke of the wanderings of Abraham and the Jewish people, observing that societies that have welcomed Jews have been blessed while those that have harmed the Jewish people have been themselves harmed. The speech seemed particularly appropriate given that we live in a country which may yet have a Jewish vice president.

At the kiddush after services I spoke with a number of Kesher members who had been in Nashville on election night. They told me that they had a regular minyan at the campaign hotel.

Sunday morning I read in the Washington Post that the Gores waited for after sundown to go to a movie with the Liebermans! The Vice President of the United States was waiting for havdalah to go see a movie. Even if the Gore-Lieberman ticket does not get elected, this has been a historic occurrence and run. It has been a strong statement of what an individual's dedication and hard work can achieve; that there need not be boundaries on how far an American Jew and American Jewry can go; that one can maintain religious observance and still succeed; and that America accepts diversity and values merit.

My favorite quote of the election was from a non-Jew in the Midwest who said Senator Lieberman is like everyone's favorite uncle - he could fit in any living room in the United States.

I join in the sentiment expressed to Senator Lieberman from the president of Kesher Israel, "chazak v'amatz" - be strong and be brave.

©, 2000. May not be reproduced without written permission


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