Its Judaism 101 as media goes to school on Lieberman

His every move in and out of shul will be covered by the press. And Americans will learn the traditions of every holiday celebrated by Jews during the Jewish months of Elul and Tishri.

That education began quickly, on Lieberman's first Shabbat after being selected by Gore.

Last weekend, the wire service that most daily newspapers subscribe to, the Associated Press, did a full report on what Shabbat observance means.

Readers were informed that Lieberman entered Kesher Israel sanctuary in Washington "wearing a prayer shawl over his shoulders and his yarmulke, the traditional Jewish skullcap worn to cover the head in reverence to God."

The AP goes on to say that Lieberman's wife, Hadassah, "sat separately, as all men and women must do."

Readers were told that Lieberman will not campaign on Shabbat because "it is the traditional Jewish day of rest, a time to pray and reflect on God's creations. It stems from the Torah, the word of God, which says: 'For in six days, God made heaven, earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, God blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.'"

The story went on to state that the Liebermans keep kosher, explaining that "it is forbidden to eat certain animals like pig or shellfish. Meat cannot be eaten with dairy products."

AP also wrote a second story titled "Sabbath traditions." It explained the candlelighting ceremony, Kiddush (wine blessing) and Shabbat services as well as the Shabbat restrictions against work, cooking and using electricity.

Not to be outdone, Reuters wire service also wrote a story explaining why Lieberman observes the Sabbath. The story said, "The instruction to keep the Sabbath is the fourth of the Ten Commandments, set out in the Book of Exodus and repeated in the Book of Deuteronomy."

The story went on to explain that Shabbat "ends with a prayer called 'Havdallah,' which means 'distinguishing,' in which Jews bless God for distinguishing between light and darkness, between the holy and the profane, between the Sabbath and the six days of work and between Israel and other nations."

Readers of those articles got an immediate education on what the Jewish Sabbath is all about. But they weren't the first stories and certainly won't be the last stories on Lieberman's religious practices.

Only hours after Gore named him, the AP did a story entitled 'Lieberman's Orthodoxy."

The story explained what Orthodox Judaism is all about, and went on to quote explanations by rabbis and other Jewish leaders.

AP quoted from an American Jewish Committee document in which Lieberman said, "My faith, which has anchored my life, begins with a joyful gratitude that there is a God who created the universe and then, because he continued to care for what he created, gave us laws and values to order and improve our lives."

What Jewish facts will the newspaper wire services write about next?

That may depend on whether a reporter walks in on Lieberman some morning while he is putting on his tefillin. If that happens, American newspaper readers will undoubtedly learn what tefillin are all about and how to put them on.

Lieberman could become everyone's introduction to Judaism.