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At Stamford funeral, Joe Lieberman remembered as a 'mensch'

Al Gore pays respects to Joe Lieberman’s wife Hadassah and members his former running mate's family after speaking at Lieberman's funeral service at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford, Ct.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Al Gore pays respects to Joe Lieberman’s wife Hadassah and members of his former running mate's family after speaking at Lieberman's funeral service at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford, Connecticut.

Former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman was remembered by dignitaries at a funeral service Friday in his hometown of Stamford.

Chris Dodd served in the Senate with Lieberman for more than two decades and knew him far longer than that.

Dodd said that even during crises, Lieberman always conveyed a sense of calmness. He said that was a hallmark of how Lieberman treated other people.

“Many of us, and I'm one of them, are having a hard time accepting and processing the tragic passing of Joe Lieberman, my friend for more than half a century,” Dodd said.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy delivers remarks during funeral services for Joe Lieberman Hundreds at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford, Ct.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy delivers remarks during funeral services for Joe Lieberman Hundreds at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford, Connecticut.

Lieberman died Wednesday at the age of 82 due to complications from a fall.

Among those speaking at the funeral was Al Gore, who ran for president on a Democratic ticket with Lieberman in the disputed 2000 election. 

Gore described Lieberman as a "mensch" who both bridged partisan political divides and wasn’t afraid to go against mainstream political currents.

Light from a stained glass window illuminates a program at the Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford, Connecticut, during Senator Joe Lieberman’s funeral service.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Light from a stained glass window illuminates a program at the Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford, Connecticut, during Senator Joe Lieberman’s funeral service.

Noting there is no English equivalent for the Yiddish term, Gore told mourners at Congregation Agudath Sholom that they could find its meaning just by looking at his former running mate.

“Those who seek its definition will not find it in dictionaries so much as they find it in the way Joe Lieberman lived his life: friendship over anger, reconciliation as a form of grace,” Gore said. “We can learn from Joe Lieberman’s life some critical lessons about how we might heal the rancor in our nation today.”

Gov. Ned Lamont also spoke, saying his friendship with Lieberman started out differently than most — after a 2006 Senate primary when Lamont defeated Lieberman after a contentious debate over the Iraq War.

Hundreds of friends, family, and political leaders gather at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford for Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman’s funeral service
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Visitors line up outside Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford for Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman’s funeral service

Lieberman went on to win the general election as an independent candidate. Lamont said the campaign led to a friendship — and that led to laughs from the audience.

"Mine started on a sort of inauspicious note. We had a year-long debate all over the state of Connecticut on an issue we both cared deeply about," he said.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — who, like Lieberman, describes herself as a moderate — also attended the funeral.

Collins said she learned from him on foreign policy issues and remembered their trips together to Iraq and Afghanistan. So it wasn't hard for her to answer a question from a group of middle school students in Maine during a recent visit, when they asked who was her favorite senator to work with.

"Without missing a beat, I said: Joe Lieberman, because that was true," she said.

Joe Lieberman’s wife Hadassah walks with members of her family outside of the Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford after her husband's funeral service.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Joe Lieberman’s wife Hadassah walks with members of her family outside of the Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford after her husband's funeral service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report, which will be updated.

Matt Dwyer is an editor, reporter and midday host for Connecticut Public's news department. He produces local news during All Things Considered.