- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2000

She stood shoulder to shoulder with Tipper Gore in the Tennessee sunshine yesterday, eyes intent on the huge crowd in front of her.

"Hadassah is here!" Mrs. Gore called out. "She represents what America is all about."

Hadassah Freilich Lieberman stepped forward to the microphone, and in that moment made her first sure-footed move on the campaign trail.

"I stand before you very deeply, sincerely thankful that I am an American," she said.

The fact she was born the daughter of Holocaust survivors in a Prague refugee camp 52 years ago is part of her heart, soul and backbone lending her a clear-eyed perspective on life, politics and husband.

Yesterday, she stood with her husband, Joseph, on the cusp of a whole new life.

Mrs. Lieberman spoke for just under a minute, but her voice rose with genuine emotion. She was thrilled, moved, honored, she said by the "bold and wonderful choice" of her husband on the Democratic ticket.

"I am standing here for you. This country is our country," Mrs. Lieberman said.

The man she calls "Joey" kissed her. Al and Tipper Gore each held her tight.

For the moment, the couples were a matched set: two confident men in shirtsleeves, two agreeable wives in impeccable suits and beautifully coifed blond hair.

But this is a woman with a practical, down-to-earth side. Friends call the former public relations consultant both compassionate and thoughtful a wise woman who has cultivated independence from the tumult of politics with a sense of self and family.

On Monday, she greeted dozens of clamoring reporters and camera crews outside her Connecticut house. Was she ready for a tough campaign?

"I've got no choice," Mrs. Lieberman told them. "I've got to remain calm. I've got a 12-year-old."

The same woman saw to it that the indecorous bunch had apple juice and cookies to sustain them through their vigil outside the Liebermans' New Haven home, awaiting confirmation that Mr. Lieberman had received the Democratic vice-presidential nomination.

She also made sure that everyone was presentable. Mrs. Lieberman summoned two hairdressers to the house on Alston Avenue to attend the glamour needs of all within.

There is harmony in this house, and strict observance of Orthodox Jewish laws of conduct, daily ritual and prayer that originate from several thousand years of tradition.

It is a union of "family values," said Rabbi Abner Weiss, who married the couple in 1983. "There are no skeletons in this cupboard, believe me, because I know this cupboard."

"He likes being a regular Joe. And she helps him be a regular Joe," said Michael Lewan, who formerly served as Mr. Lieberman's chief of staff.

The couple first met one Sunday afternoon in 1982 after he chose her name from a list of prospective dates a well-meaning matchmaker had given him at synagogue. The moment has since become part of family mythology.

The prospect of wooing "someone named Hadassah," Mr. Lieberman has said, "was fascinating."

He found it unusual, as well. In Hebrew, Hadassah means "myrtle tree," and is also the Hebrew name for Queen Esther the "brave queen" of the Old Testament.

They married the following year, the second marriage for both. Mrs. Lieberman has a son from an earlier marriage to a New York rabbi; Mr. Lieberman has a son and daughter from another marriage.

The two are parents to daughter Hana, 12, and have two grandchildren, Tennessee and Willie.

Friends are convinced that the Liebermans will continue to rely upon their marriage and religious life to sustain them over the next few months.

And it is Mrs. Lieberman who already has a handle on the big picture.

"I'm planning for the rest of my life," she told reporters earlier this week. "I'm just praying. I'm overwhelmed by this incredible moment in time, in history, in the history of my family and the history of many immigrants who are sharing this feeling with us."

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