Joseph Lieberman: A proud Jew and a pathbreaker with integrity


When Al Gore chose Joe Lieberman as his Democratic vice presidential running mate in 2000, it was a gamechanger for Jews in America as, for the first time, a Jewish candidate was on a major party ticket to lead the country.

“I don’t know if any presidential nominee would have had the courage to do it 20 years, let alone 50 years, before,” said Lieberman, who died last Wednesday at the age of 82 from complications due to a fall at his home in Riverdale.

And he was just a few hundred hanging chads away from actually winning the spot alongside Gore, ultimately losing in a very close race to then-Texas governor George W. Bush.

Throughout all of it, Lieberman never shied away from his faith, or his principles. Just a few years later, in 2008, he almost found himself on a presidential ticket again — this time with his longtime Republican Senate colleague, John McCain. But McCain went with Alaska governor Sarah Palin instead, heeding the advice of his staff that Lieberman’s pro-abortion stance could split the GOP.

“It was sound advice that I could reason for myself,” McCain would later share in his autobiography. “But my gut told me to ignore it, and I wish I had.”

McCain would ultimately concede to then-Illinois senator Barack Obama in that race.

Born in Stamford, Connecticut, on Feb. 24, 1942, Lieberman studied political science and economics at Yale University — the first in his family to attend college.

After graduating from Yale Law School in the late 1960s, Lieberman joined a law firm in New Haven, Connecticut.

He was first elected to that state’s senate in 1970, where he later became majority leader. However, the Republican landslide that came with the election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980 swept him and other Democrats out of office.

Lieberman was elected attorney general in Connecticut three years later, serving there until he was elected to the US Senate in 1988.

He would lose a primary battle to Ned Lamont in 2006, prompting Lieberman to make an independent bid to keep his seat — and he succeeded with 50 percent of the vote.

Lieberman retired from the senate in early 2013, moving to Riverdale soon after, but staying close to politics. He had even been considered a top-pick by President Donald Trump to replace James Comey as FBI director in 2017.

Joseph Lieberman is survived by his wife, Hadassah, and his three children. His final resting place is at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford, a synagogue the Lieberman family were longtime members of.