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.

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see EstherK.com, MyUrbanKvetch.com and JDatersAnonymous.com.


  • I know he has his beard as a sign of mourning but, just for a minute, I have to preach on the hotness of the beard.
    Beards are seriously the hottest thing a guy can have. Hotter than most anything else (bulging biceps, smarts, dark eyes, etc.) is the beard.
    As a matter of fact, I started a campaign called Bring Beards Back and to join all you have to do is grow a beard or convince guys to grow them. In the 70’s everyone was bearded and it was intense–I really think we should try that again.

  • Ooooh, yeah, loves me some beards!

    But then, I’m one of those crazy chicks who think that frum guys are hawt.

  • laya, I ve sent you an email @jewlicious. just wanted to know if you got it?

  • I’m kind of with you guys–I would even say that beards can do a lot of good on some people, but there are definitely exceptions to the rule. Kind of not what I meant to highlight with this post, but still…

  • Grace, Esther–thanks!

    I have some friends who think I’m nuts, but it really is true. And because that really isn’t what you wrote about, I’ll add another “may Senator Lieberman and his family find comfort among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”

    Shabbat Shalom.

  • Condolences. I especially love those week old pieces of cholent beans in the beard…too sexy!!

  • I’m also a big fan of the beard. However, when my poor husband finally was convinced to grow one, we def got stopped a lot more in “random” checks at airports and the like (my puppy-dog-sweet husband has beautiful curls that tend to get crazy quickly—-so he was dark complected from golfing, had naturally loony hair, and a bushy beard to please his wife—-yep, obviously a crazy!) By the way, in response to the meaning of the post: I agree wholeheartedly—anything that can bring positive traditional Judaism to the front over celebrity unions or celebrity Kaballah is excellent.

  • I like beards but they have to be well-kept. I don’t like those scraggly beards from the 70s – i favor the close-shaven, well tended beard (like the one my boyfriend has 😉 )

  • Shaving is such a pain in the ass. It’s this never ending cycle of razor to face, every other day, because the hair starts to push through the skin and itches like crazy. I tried the laser and that just burned the hell outta me. Have a nice shabbat everybody.

  • So I guess you won’t be asking your wife to a get a brazillian bikini wax encino?

  • A beard is a beard is beard. Facial fungus anyone?
    Nah, all jest aside, some people look better when they do the hirsute thang. My sympathies to Joe. As an aside, wow-celebs breaking up and cracking up in Hollywood? NOWAY!!! LaLa land is known for Shalom Bayit!!! I am in shock. I cannot speaketh. Maybe I should adopt a baby from a 3 world country to make me feel better abt this.

  • I have a beard at the moment/a very thick beard as My dear father died approx 3 weeks ago.
    I will be keeping it on a little longer than the month as the period runs into “the 3 weeks”
    I have always told little lies about my age Im 52
    but always got away with 43-47 🙂 but a very grey beard kind of tells its own tale in more ways then one good job im not socialising at this time.
    I would blow my cover.
    I have had many comments from non jewish contacts,many thinking it is a great sign of respect and wishing there was more like that in their religion.