We are an extraordinarily lucky generation of Jews, and a particularly blessed generation of Jewish Americans. We live in this country that has given us more opportunity, freedom, respect and success than anywhere in the six millennia of Jewish history outside the State of Israel. And we live at a time when the state of Israel is reborn; it's quite a remarkable and fortunate time to be alive.

Both of these countries are founded on principles, by a set of ideals, of the work of every human being, of the right of every human being to try to develop themselves to the maximum. We say in our Declaration of Independence that we are all endowed with these rights from our Creator; in the case of Israel, these rights are described even earlier in the Torah.

Chabad-Lubavitch is an extraordinary movement. It was my honor to spend some occasions with the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory. He was a powering figure, obviously a great sage in our time. He was learned deeply in Jewish subjects, but he was very learned in subjects of the world.

I'll tell you this little bit, when I started corresponding with him when I was elected to an earlier office, he wrote me back and quoted the words of prophet Jeremiah, which were to seek the welfare, the wellbeing of the community in which you live. In the county which you live, and in its wellbeing, you will find your freedom and peace. It was a grateful thought and I appreciated it.

He was a person who preached and believed in outreach, of bringing people in. I have seen it throughout the country and the world in Chabad-Lubavitch centers. They talk to people not about the mitzvahs that they are not doing, not about the good deeds that they are not doing, but about the next one that they can do: Give charity, go visit somebody who is sick, light the Shabbat candles.

It is one of the most remarkable movements of our time. And after the Rebbe's death, it has incredibly expanded.

Parting the Waves

Accompanied by Rabbi Yisrael Deren, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Fairfield County, Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman affixes a mezuzah to his new home in Stamford.
Accompanied by Rabbi Yisrael Deren, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Fairfield County, Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman affixes a mezuzah to his new home in Stamford.
Years ago, I was in Budapest and we went to the synagogue there and met the local Lubavitch emissary, who invited us to lunch. At that time, I said to him that there is a lot of questioning about who will replace the Rebbe. He said, "Well, here is my answer. In Budapest, I am privileged to carry on for the Rebbe."

All over the world, 4,000 representatives of this group are doing good deeds, educating children, taking care of children, providing opportunities to approach Judaism in a positive way.

I've often said, and I do not mean this as a political statement, that sometimes I think Chabad has a larger worldwide organization than the CIA. They turn up everywhere.

When my mother, of blessed memory, would find out that I was traveling, she would talk to the local Lubavitch representative in Stamford, Conn., who would tell someone halfway around the world that I was coming.

They have a network that is very quick. After the Iraq war had just begun, I was going to a European-American security conference in Munich, Germany, and there were 10,000 or 15,000 protestors out on the streets. The street that our hotel was on was surrounded by police vehicles that looked like tanks.

When we got there, one of the U.S. military escorts who had gone ahead said that he had the most remarkable experience earlier in the day. Somebody from the hotel had asked him to go out and meet a gentleman who was going to bring something for one of the members of the delegation.

He said that it was like the Red Sea separating, this man with a black hat and beard walking through the protestors and talks.

"I thought to myself, who is this man?" he said. "What is in the bag? It was two challahs and a bottle of kosher wine."

This organization is a worldwide service. I really salute Chabad and I thank them.