Is Joe Lieberman Really A Devout Jew - Or A Pious Egotist? Maybe Someone Should Ask.

Since Joe simply lies when it suits his purpose, maybe his "devout" Judaism is more of a convenient fundraising accessory, something to enhance his shtick of being a "pious" man who upholds "morality," more than a matter of integrity. Because his recent actions certainly doesn't seem to agree with the basic tenets of Judaism. Maybe that's why Israel itself has socialized health care - that we subsidize:

Washington — On a recent Saturday afternoon, after completing his Sabbath morning prayers, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut braved a four-mile, snowy walk to the Capitol building from his Georgetown synagogue.

“I have a responsibility to my constituents, really to my conscience, to be here on something as important as health care reform,” Lieberman told the congressional newspaper The Hill, describing his wish to combine his Jewish beliefs with his duties as a lawmaker.

By walking to a special Saturday Senate debate on health care reform, Lieberman was complying with the traditional religious ban against driving during the Sabbath. But Lieberman’s many critics in the Jewish community claim that the Connecticut independent is missing the broader Jewish concern.

Well, yes. This is exactly the kind of pious showboating Joe likes to substitute for actual faith. The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism released a statement back in 1993 on Judaism and Health Care Reform, in which they pointed out the thinking behind their stand:

It is a positive commandment to save the life of a person in danger from illness. This duty falls under the general obligation of saving life, which is grounded in a number of biblical verses, including "Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of your fellow," (Lev. 19:16) "And your fellow shall live by your side," (Lev. 25:36), and "You shall restore it [in this case, life] to him" (Deut. 22:2). So great is the mitzvah of saving life, that nearly all other religious obligations are subordinated to it: we violate the Sabbath to save a person's life (Pikuah nefesh doha et ha-shabbat, Yoma 85b), and there is a general principle in Jewish law that danger to life and health is of greater religious concern than ritual matters (Hamirah sakanta mi'issura, Hullin 10a).

Tzedaka -- Communal Obligations to Meeting Basic Human Needs: Just as the Jewish community recognizes an obligation to provide for such basic needs as food, clothing, and shelter through the collection and distribution of communal funds, so, too, have Jews insisted that no person be denied access to health care on account of inability to pay.

While physicians are not required to provide their services for free ("A physician who takes nothing is worth nothing" -- Baba Kamma 85a), communal subsidies matched by reduced rates for poor patients have been the norm.[Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh Deah 249:16; see also Responsa Ramat Rahel of Rabbi Eliezer Y. Waldenberg, sections 24-25]

Yes, Joe. It's about saving lives. Danger to life and health is more important than ritual matters. But then again, it seems like you're more concerned with making yourself look "religious." Shame on you for using your faith as a protective cover for hardball corporate politics.

“Health care reform is the key moral issue facing the country right now,” said one of those critics, Rabbi Charles Arian of Beth Jacob Synagogue in Norwich, Conn. “I will be personally disappointed if it stops dead in its tracks because Senator Lieberman invokes a filibuster.”

Lieberman has vowed to vote against ending a Republican filibuster of the health care reform bill that the Senate is now debating if it includes a government-run insurance program. Due to the Senate’s current balance of forces, that would effectively kill a historic effort to reform the country’s ramshackle health insurance system, which now excludes millions of people from obtaining health coverage.

[...] Lieberman’s threat is being met with harsh criticism within the Jewish community in Connecticut, where public-opinion surveys show that strong general majorities support a government-sponsored insurance option.

Widely seen as the key domestic cause for American Jews right now, health care reform has several national Jewish groups actively lobbying for it. Among them is Jewish Federations of North America, the umbrella organization for the nation’s local Jewish philanthropic federations, which are deeply involved in funding health care. But national Jewish organizations are not, by and large, focusing on Lieberman.

It's time they start, because he's the main stumbling block. From the Hartford Courant last week:

A group of religious leaders is still trying to sway U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman to drop his opposition to government run health insurance, also known as public option.

They drew hundreds of supporters to a candlelight vigil outside the senator's Stamford home last month. Nine days later, they gathered outside his Hartford office and delivered hundreds of prayers for health reform with a public option, written by supporters, to Lieberman's staff.

Leaders of the group, called the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care, met with Lieberman on Monday but said he maintained his opposition to the public option.

Their latest attempt to lobby the senator will appear in newspapers across the state today, an advertisement featuring a letter from Norwalk Rabbi Joseph Ron Fish describing the imperative of multiple faiths to seek the welfare of everyone, particularly the meek and vulnerable. The advertisement includes the signatures of 240 Connecticut religious leaders and will argue that Lieberman must support "real reform" as a matter of conscience, according to the group.

Joe doesn't care what happens in Connecticut, because he probably won't run again. But he does care what the national media thinks about him, and those shallow scribes take his "faith" on faith. I'd love to see one reporter from a major publication or network ask him how to justify his opposition to his bill in light of his faith - and they should have a rabbi who supports health care reform to challenge him.

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