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Will prayers sway Lieberman on healthcare? Rabbis rally. Priests, ministers, imams too

November 17, 2009 |  9:53 am

Interfaith vigil to sway Connecticut's Joe Lieberman on health care

Connecticut's Joe Lieberman is a unique figure in Washington. He's an independent who caucuses with the Democrats but campaigns for Republicans like Arizona's John McCain.

He's also an observant Jew who honors the Sabbath. The senator makes an exception for work when the Senate is in session on Saturdays.

Now, an interfaith group of clergy is lobbying him to drop his plans to filibuster any healthcare bill that contains a public option. Their strategy: prayers.

During a Sunday night vigil, a crowd walked from Stamford High School, Lieberman's alma mater, to his condo building across the street. According to the Stamford Advocate's Devon Lash, residents went out on their balconies to listen to rabbis, ministers, priests and imams speak from behind a sidewalk pulpit.

"We are praying for the senator to change his heart and his mind," said the Rev. Tommie Jackson, of Faith Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Stamford. 

Then Monday, a multi-denominational group of clergy sent a letter to Lieberman asking him to abandon his filibuster threats. "A lot of groups who have historically supported [Lieberman] are praying for him to come back home," Rabbi Ron Fish, leader of the Concerned Clergy Of Connecticut, pictured above.

The letter, signed by 70 members of the clergy, posed this argument: "Whether from the words of Torah or the Gospels of Jesus, whether from the Talmud or the Koran -- our traditions all are explicit and clear on one thing: We are commanded to seek the welfare and healing of all those in our midst, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable."

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Rabbi  Ron Fish, of Congregation Beth El in Norwalk, Conn., participates in candlelight vigil urging Sen. Lieberman to back healthcare reform.  Credit: Chris Preovolos / Stamford Advocate

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