It is 10 p.m. on a rainy Friday and Senator Joseph Lieberman is still walking the hour and a half home from the Capitol with a police car driving slowly beside him. He has made this walk on 30 or 40 occasions in his 22 years in the Senate.
Lieberman is a devout Orthodox Jew. The Sabbath begins Friday at sundown and ends Saturday at sundown. During that time, Orthodox Jews are prohibited from doing work, using electricity and even riding in cars.
When Senate sessions run late on Friday night, Lieberman stays in order to allow his constituents their representation and then he begins the four and a half mile walk to his home in Georgetown.
“Observing the Sabbath is a commandment I have embraced, the fourth commandment to be exact, which Moses received from God on Mt. Sinai,” said Lieberman in his book, “The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath,” which was released earlier this year. “Most of the time, it feels less like a commandment and more like a gift from God. … [It] is a gift because it is one of the deepest, purest pleasures of my life.”
Lieberman is the chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is responsible for the oversight of the Department of Homeland Security and ensuring the efficiency of the Federal government.
He is perhaps most well known as Al Gore’s running mate in the 2000 elections. During a vice presidential debate, he used his experience in the Governmental Affairs Committee to make a case for governmental responsibility.
“[Lieberman] made the case to the American people about how we should use our prosperity in a responsible way to benefit all of our people,” Chris Lehane said to The New York Daily News in 2000. He is a political analyst who served as lawyer, spokesman and expert in opposition research for President Bill Clinton, and who was working as Al Gore’s spokesman at the time.
According to his website, Lieberman was born in Stamford, Conn., on Feb. 24, 1942. He received his bachelor’s degree and law degree from Yale University.
Three years after graduation from law school, he was elected to the Connecticut State Senate, where he served for 10 years. He then returned to private practice and served five years as the Connecticut Attorney General.
Lieberman was elected to the United States Senate in 1988 in the biggest political upset that year. He won by only 10,000 votes. Six years later, he won in the biggest landslide election ever in a Connecticut Senate race, beating his opponent by more than 350,000 votes.
In 2006, he was elected to a fourth term as an Independent. He won the general election by more than 100,000 votes. He is identified as an Independent Democrat.
On Jan. 19 of this year, in his hometown of Stamford, Lieberman announced his plan to retire from the United States Senate at the end of his fourth term.
“I go forward with a tremendous sense of gratitude for the opportunities I have had to make a difference,” Lieberman said during his announcement.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Lieberman disagree on many political issues, but have common ground in their determination to observe the Sabbath. “Senators Hatch and Lieberman have different political philosophies and don’t agree on every issue, but they have a great deal of mutual respect, are friends and share in common an abiding faith in God and respect for different religious traditions,” said Mark Eddington, who works in Hatch’s Provo office.
Lieberman will speak at BYU at Tuesday’s forum. His address is titled “Faith and the Public Square.”