Brides and other neighbors join Lieberman celebration

Many brides-to-be understandably get nervous a week before their weddings, what with seating arrangements, flowers, dress fittings and hundreds of details.

But when your neighbor is nominated as vice president less than a week before your special day, you're also dealing with countless press inquiries and extra traffic on your street.

That's just what happened to Shira Langenauer, who was married Aug. 13. The previous Monday, her New Haven, Conn., neighbor, Sen. Joseph Lieberman was named as Al Gore's running mate.

"We're extremely excited for him. We think it's great," Langenauer said. "We were at the rally on Wednesday night [in Stamford, Conn.] and it was great to be part of something so big he's going through.

"I grew up basically with him as a next door neighbor. They moved in 17 years ago and I'm 23," she added. "It's great to share the excitement with them; we couldn't be happier."

However, the Liebermans didn't share Langenauer's excitement with her. They were unable to attend her wedding.

It was obvious to the neighborhood early last Monday that something big was happening in the quiet, tree-lined region.

"I found out Monday morning at 7:15. My cousin from New York called because someone had called her to wake her up to tell her and she called to wake me up!" said Edie Goldberg, Hadassah Lieberman's roommate at Stern College for Women, part of Yeshiva University.

"I went over to the house. It was a little chaotic, as you can imagine, people going in different directions, phones ringing off the hook."

Lieberman neighbor and former law partner James Segaloff also heard the news early last week.

"My life was very calm and quiet up until Monday morning, then it all broke loose. I went rowing Monday morning and at 7:15, I was coming back. My car radio wasn't working. When I turned onto my street, there were entire communications networks from throughout the country."

He continued: "My wife told me, 'You're not going to believe this; Joe's the man.' I went over to the house and Joe said 'Wow, partner, can you believe this?' I said, 'Absolutely unbelievable.'"

Like many of Lieberman's New Haven neighbors, Segaloff has been inundated with press requests, from People Magazine, Newsweek, Associated Press and MSNBC.

"One of the aspects of this that is so thrilling is that Joe has a great story to tell and I'm delighted to be one of the storytellers," said Segaloff.

"Joe is the real thing — he loves his family, embraces his religion. He's sensitive, he's humane, he's grounded," he added.

"All of that was what he was when we got together in 1973. All of those qualities that everyone is raving about now are all the same qualities he's had over the years."

Segaloff remembered the first time he had insight into Lieberman's life as an Orthodox Jew.

"I'm Reform, and at the time we first got together, did not have a full appreciation for one living one's life as an Orthodox Jew," he said. "On one particular Saturday, we were waiting for a decision from a judge and it was very important to us. It arrived on Saturday and it was favorable.

"I grabbed the decision and drove to Joe's house. Joe opened the door and when I said we had the decision, he took a step back. A light bulb went off in my head and I thought, 'Wow, it's Shabbat.' It really sent a message to me that one day a week Joe is not involved with business."

Segaloff recalled the late Gov. Ella Grasso calling on Friday afternoons and asking to speak to Lieberman before the sun set and Shabbat began.

"People who understood his commitments were very willing to accept them and deal with them," Segaloff said. "Based on my experiences as a lawyer and businessman, my sense is it won't be a problem at all.

"Maybe all of America will slow down one day a week because Joe Lieberman is vice president."