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Mother of Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, 90

July 7, 2005 By:
Tracy Sullivan, JE Feature
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Connecticut Jewish Ledger

Marcia Lieberman, the mother of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) and a beloved leader in Stamford's Jewish community, died June 26 at her home in Stamford. She was 90 and the widow of Henry Lieberman.

Rabbi Joseph Ehrenkranz, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford and a close family friend, said she died of congestive heart failure. "She has been ill since about mid-February, but only in this last week was it obvious that it was going to be fatal," said Ehrenkranz, who noted that family members were at her bedside throughout the week.

Marcia Lieberman was born Nov. 1, 1914. She was the daughter of Joseph and Minnie Manger. Her mother came to the United States in 1910, joining brothers who had come in the late 1800s. Her father arrived in 1908. Her father died in an accident when she was a child, and her mother raised the family of five children on her own.

At the age of 12, Lieberman began to work to help care for her family. She graduated from Stamford High School.

She and her husband owned and operated Hamilton Liquor Store until he retired in 1977. The couple had met at a holiday dance at the Stamford Jewish Center. He died in 1986.

She was known for her active community service. In a 2000 interview with Woman magazine, she talked of the importance of caring for others during the Depression. When she was growing up, she explained, "People who passed through town and had no money would stay at our house. Not every house was like that. But ours was."

Ehrenkranz and his wife befriended Lieberman, her mother and their family when he became the rabbi at the Orthodox shul in 1948.

She was a lifetime member of Hadassah, and was active with Jewish Family Services and the Ferguson Library in Stamford.

With her sister, Frances Brenner, their mother and others in the community, she helped establish an anonymous charity fund through the Hebrew Ladies Educational Society in Stamford, and served as the volunteer overseer of the monies. She had also been her son's volunteer liaison to Connecticut's senior citizens since he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1988.

Lieberman entered the national spotlight during her son's campaign for vice president in 2000 and his presidential campaign in 2003-04. She traveled all over the country, touring with celebrities, even appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live."

During the campaigns, she became a favorite of the national press. According to the news release on the senator's Web site, when CBS was assigned a reporter to follow her in Florida, she tried to play matchmaker for him. She also once sent care packages wrapped in brown paper to reporters that included bagel chips, lip balm, an apple, tissues and postcards for them to write their mothers. She enclosed a note that said: "Please be kind to my son! Enjoy. Marcia Lieberman (Joe's mom!)."

In addition to her son, she is survived by daughters Rietta Miller and Ellen Lieberman; eight grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

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