It was an innocuous interview about a subject I no longer remember. A dozen years ago, I made arrangements to meet Joe Lieberman in a Manhattan office building where he had other business. The Connecticut senator, who announced this week he won’t seek re-election for a fifth term, would be able to spare 15 or 20 minutes between appointments for a taped conversation to be broadcast on the television network where I was then employed.
For the past several months, the issue that had not been raised (by non-Jews, at least) in Sen. Joe Lieberman's campaign for the presidency was his religion. Lieberman has been poised to prove that a Jew can stand for president as a patriotic American and be judged solely on those terms.
The Democratic Party may be about to experience a battle for its Jewish soul. Less than a year before the first primary, the field for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination has turned into a crowd, but two names have special significance for Jewish voters and the politicians who woo them: Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and the Rev. Al Sharpton -- the cautious, conservative lawmaker and the rhetorical bomb thrower.
Now that his kippah is officially in the presidential ring, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) is expected to win enthusiastic support from Jews across the country. But his formal announcement on Monday has also touched off a quiet undercurrent of concern that 2004 may not be as opportune a time for a breakthrough Jewish candidacy as 2000.
This year, 5763, Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbat, the weekly observance that Sen. Joseph Lieberman calls "a sanctuary to put the outside world on hold and concentrate on what's really important -- your faith and your family." And although Lieberman, who was the Democratic candidate for vice president in 2000, will experience the same joy he feels every Friday night as he takes off his watch and prepares to get into the Sabbath mood, during Rosh Hashana all activities are heightened -- the prayers are longer, the conversation more intense, the urgency to evaluate the past year and make resolutions for a sweet New Year more palpable.