I know, I’m part of the media. But the media is relentless in its attention to minutiae. First, we had the insanity of that whole Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes circus; then the Brad/Jen breakup and the subsequent “Pretty People Unite” coupling of the entity that would become Brangelina…
But now, the media’s new darling is Joe Lieberman’s shloshim (a 30-day period of mourning) beard. At least in Connecticut, the state that Joe represents.
According to the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, “at least three Connecticut dailies have published articles about the senator’s beard, explaining the religious significance behind it, and news broadcasts in the state have also mentioned it.”
The first paper to carry the story, the New Haven Register, reported that observers at one event “were surprised to see the usually clean-shaven” Connecticut Democrat “sporting a full beard.” But the story, a July 9 dispatch from the paper’s Washington bureau, noted that the beard “was neither a cosmetic experiment nor a break from shaving,” but “a solemn act of mourning” for his mother, who died at age 90.
Several days later, a reporter for the Waterbury Republican-American wrote that Lieberman’s appearance at a press conference in Washington was “scruffy enough” to elicit “a few raised eyebrows and whispers in the crowd.” But the comments came from people who didn’t know about “a deep-rooted Jewish custom,” the article continued.
Like the celebrity couplings, Joe’s beard probably won’t last, as the article notes that the senator is not likely to keep the beard after shloshim is over. But–and say what you want about his politics–the way I see it, the difference between TomKat and Brangelina and Joe’s Beard is that at the end of all the media coverage, celebrity couplings and uncouplings don’t teach us anything. It seems that, for better or for worse, everything Lieberman does provides an opportunity for the world to learn something new, and usually positive, about traditional Jewish life.
May Senator Lieberman and his family find comfort among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.