Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), at a farewell for retiring Senator Joseph Lieberman, decided to make some jokes about Lieberman’s orthodox Judaism for the star-studded crowd, which included former vice president Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
McCain opened by announcing, “I have a major announcement to make. I’m converting to Judaism.”
Because McCain and Lieberman have taken many trips abroad together, McCain has often deferred to Lieberman’s religious requirements, such as riding in elevators that stop at every floor on the Sabbath (required for observant Jews since they are forbidden from activating anything electronic on the Sabbath, and thus must stop wherever the elevator stops), walking to a vote on Saturday because observant Jews do not drive on the Sabbath, and eating kosher meals, which often included salmon because kosher meat can be difficult to find.
McCain joked, “I had to put up all the years with the bullshit of religion, I might as well convert … Why in every f**king kosher meal do we have to have salmon?” as the crowd laughed. He mentioned a joint trip to Germany when he woke up on the plane to see Joe Lieberman praying wrapped in a tallit, the Jewish prayer shawl. “I see this guy wrapped in a shawl,” he said, “I thought maybe I died … I had to put up with this all these years.”
McCain concluded that after all of these sacrifices, it would now be a natural move for him to simply convert to Judaism.