Breaking News: Senator Ted Kennedy Dead at Age 77


ted-kennedy2:01 a.m. EST: Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate, has died after battling a brain tumor. He was 77.

Kennedy’s family announced his death in a brief statement a short while ago.

For nearly a half-century in the Senate, Kennedy was a dominant voice on health care, civil rights, war and peace, and more. To the American public, though, he was best known as the last surviving brother of a storied political family.

Kennedy was elected to the Senate in 1962, when his brother John was president, and served longer than all but two senators in history.

Over the decades, Kennedy put his imprint on major pieces of social legislation to clear the Congress.

He died at his home in Hyannis Port.


“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,” the family’s statement said. “We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all.”

Kennedy was elected to the Senate in 1962, when his brother John was president, and served longer than all but two senators in history. Over the decades, he put his imprint on every major piece of social legislation to clear the Congress.

His own hopes of reaching the White House were damaged – perhaps doomed – in 1969 by the scandal that came to be known as Chappaquiddick, an auto accident that left a young woman dead.

Kennedy – known to family, friends and foes simply as Ted – ended his quest for the presidency in 1980 with a famous declaration: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

The third-longest-serving senator in U.S. history, Kennedy was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in May 2008 and underwent surgery and a regimen of radiation and chemotherapy.

His death comes just weeks after that of his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver on Aug. 11.

He authored more pieces of major legislation than any other United States senator, but was know for his extreme liberal views, fighting the conservatives tooth and nail. He ended up perhaps the most influential liberal voice of his time.

Kennedy’s eldest brother, Joseph, was killed in a plane crash in World War II. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down in Los Angeles as he campaigned for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination. John F. Kennedy Jr. was killed in a plane crash at age 38 along with his wife in 1999.

His own legacy was blighted on the night of July 18, 1969, when Kennedy drove his car off a bridge and into a pond on Chappaquiddick Island, on Martha’s Vineyard. Mary Jo Kopechne, a 28-year-old worker with RFK’s campaign, was found dead in the submerged car’s back seat 10 hours later.

Kennedy, then 37, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a two-month suspended sentence and a year’s probation. A judge eventually determined there was “probable cause to believe that Kennedy operated his motor vehicle negligently … and that such operation appears to have contributed to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.”

At the height of the scandal, Kennedy went on national television to explain himself in an extraordinary 13-minute address in which he denied driving drunk.

In 1980, Kennedy took the extraordinary step of challenging a sitting president, Jimmy Carter, for the party’s nomination. Kennedy’s left-of-center politics made him an unlikely choice. But Chappaquiddick – and lingering suspicions that the famous Kennedy money and clout had gotten him out of the trouble – damaged his chances, too.

Born in 1932, the youngest of Joseph and Rose Kennedy’s nine children, Edward Moore Kennedy was part of a family bristling with political ambition, beginning with maternal grandfather John F. “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, a congressman and mayor of Boston.

Kennedy’s memoir, “True Compass,” is set to be published in the fall.

{News Agencies/Elisha Newscenter}


  1. The Kennedy family really went through a lot. Everyone seemed to be dying all the time. It’s amazing he lived this long. The curse never got to him

  2. Yesterday’s August 26, 2009, corresponding Hebrew date when Senator Kennedy died was the 6th day of Elul, 5769. The date of the death of Mary Jo Kopechne in the Chappaquiddick scandal is the night of July 18, 1969, with the corresponding Hebrew date of the 4th day of Av, 5729. From the 4th of Av until the 6th of Elul is thirty-two days — just two days after the Sh’loshim — the thirty day period of mourning for Mary Jo. Furthermore, the Halacha is that in the first year, the Sh’loshim begins not with the day of death but with the day of burial. The funeral for Mary Jo was held on July 22, 1969 (see at the end of the paragraph), which was the Hebrew day of the 6th day of Av. So thirty days after the 6th of Av is the 6th of Elul — the day that fourty years latter would be the day of the death of the Senator!

    So it is striking that the senator died on the fourtieth anniversary of the day of the completion of the first year’s Sh’loshim. It is further noteworthy that in this fourtieth year of 2009 — 5769, these Hebrew days are on the same days of the week as they were in the year of Mary Jo’s death of 1969 — 5729! The 4th of Av was on a Shabbos, the 6th of Av on a Monday, and the 6th of Elul on a Wednesday. It is also noteworthy that the senator’s death came fourty years after Mary Jo’s death. Fourty years seems to be the maximum time that HaShem gives someone to still live when he is Chiyav Meesa — incurrs the death penalty; he becomes a Bar Onshin — liable for punishment at age twenty, and will die by age sixty.

  3. B’Ezras HaShem, with the recent passing of the last son of this generation of the Kennedy family, it is appropriate to briefly review and try to analyze some key points of that legacy.

    I. The father, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, was a severely terrible Sonei Yisroel. He had admiration for Hitler and stated that he “understood” Hitler’s hatred of Jews. When he was the United States Ambassador to England, he strongly advocated for the western countries to not oppose the Nazis. Needless to say, this greatly irritated those who recognized the dangerous German threat; eventually, the US government terminated his ambassadorship.

    He had made a prestigious shidduch with marrying the daughter of the Mayor of Boston, Rose Fitzgerald. After that though, he was not loyal to her and was thus often away from home.

    II. The sons though did not continue their father’s Sinas Yisroel or Ahavas Hitler.

    1.) The oldest son, Joseph Junior, served in the US military in the European theater of World War II and was killed in a plane explosion there. The next son John Fitzgerald, who latter became president, in 1940 wrote a book titled: “Why England Slept”; it was a complement to Winston Churchill’s earlier book “While England Slept,” which had sharply criticized England’s initial appeasement of Hitler.

    When he was president, there was a remarkable incident with the Jewish community as follows. There had been irritation over a particular US vote in the United Nations. So the administration called a meeting with the heads of major Jewish organizations, one of whom was Rav Moshe Sherer, ZT’L, of Agudath Israel of America. The scheduled date of the conference though, was the day of the ninth of Av — Tisha B’Av! Rav Sherer tried to get it rescheduled, but the White House responded that there was not another time. So Rav Sherer consulted the Gadol HaDor, Rav Aharon Kotler, ZT’L. Rav Aharon told him to go to the meeting; in the conversation, Rav Aharon gave Rav Sherer a long explanation of the current political situation. Rav Sherer was quite surprised, for Rav Aharon was well known as a holy saint who was totally immersed in the D’var HaShem of our holy Torah.

    The conference was extremely positive and successful. When the president spoke individually with each organization director and came to Rav Sherer, he asked him several questions. Rav Sherer was able to answer them only because of the information and analysis that Rav Aharon had told him!

    2.) In his 1968 presidential campaign, the next son, Senator Robert Francis, projected a rabid support of Israel, probably more than the other candidates. He joined Israel Independence Day parades and often spoke at various Jewish centers. Upon his assassination, the person who was claimed to be the murderer was a Palestinian immigrant from Jordan called Sirhan Sirhan. He vehemently hated Jews and Israel, and proudly stated that he killed Kennedy for his strong pro-Israel stance. See:,0906-5.htm.

    3.) The next son, Senator Edward Moore, continued and enhanced Robert’s Jewish/Israel support. In the 1980 presidential campaign, in his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination, Edward still received a very significant portion of the Jewish vote in the primary elections. In 1983, he was honored at the annual dinner of Agudath Israel; Rav Moshe Sherer presented him with a beautifully framed Mezzuza that he had originally planned to give his brother Robert for his extensive assistance, but was unable to because of the assassination. Right here at, Matzav posted an article about how the leaders of Israel expressed great sadness at the senator’s passing and deep appreciation for what he had done for Israel and the Jewish community.

    III. Probably the biggest problem with the Kennedy brothers was that, very unfortunately, they did carry on and probably even well surpassed their father’s terrible immoral behavior. As our Torah leaders teach us to avoid talking about such subjects, we will keep this discussion limited.

    1.) When President John and his wife Jacqueline would attend a party, afterwards, Jacqueline would often have to return home BY HERSELF, for John would go off.

    2.) There was an extremely famous actress who became involved with President John and Robert. Tragically, on August 5, 1962, she died young at age 36. Her death was declared, Lo Alaynu, a “suicide”; however, the circumstances of the event were very suspicious. Several conspiracy theories thus emerged that stated that she was really murdered, possibly from Kennedy orders. (See: —

    3.) On the night of July 18, 1969, Senator Edward attended a campaign reunion party at Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts. Latter, he offered to drive one of his brother Robert’s former secretaries, Miss Mary Jo Kopechne, back to her hotel. On the way, the car veered off onto a side road that crosses a large pond with a narrow wooden bridge. As the car came onto the bridge, it slipped off and plunged into the water. Edward was able to get out of the car and the water, but could not get out Mary Jo. He did not call any emergency services though; instead, he walked back to the party and took his cousin and another friend back with him to the pond where they again tried but failed to extradite the girl. Even then though, they still did not call any emergency services.

    The next morning, two boys came to fish in the pond and saw the submerged automobile. They immediately called the police. When the diver examined the vehicle with the corpse, he realized that even after going in the water, there had been a large air bubble around the person. He thus estimated that Mary Jo had remained alive for a good two hours. In other words, she probably would have easily been saved if professional rescue workers had been brought right away.

    Edward’s claims that it had all been a terrible accident and that he and his friends had tried to save her and that he had been too shook up to actually call the police — which he openly admitted was “inexcusable,” were, understandably, all viewed with tremendous skepticism. To this day, there are vast numbers of people who firmly believe that this was a clearly planned pre-meditative deed of outright murder that was probably done to cover up something.

    I well remember when Senator Edward attempted to run for president, that one of the sons of the family I was staying by asked me what was this Chappaquiddick thing. So I told him. At that, the guy exclaimed:

    “WOW!! HE DUMPED THE GIRL!! (If he would be president) HE COULD DUMP THE WHOLE COUNTRY!!”

    Countless people were further enraged when virtually no action by law enforcement was taken on Mr. Kennedy. The only thing that was done was a charge — to which he pleaded guilty — of “leaving the scene of an accident.” For this, he was given probation and a two months in jail sentence THAT WAS “SUSPENDED”!!

    To top it all off, term after term after term, the voters in Massachusetts overwhelmingly voted him back into his senate office where he served for four more decades until his death last week.

    IV. Despite his lack of meaningful T’shuva, after Chappaquiddick, Senator Edward became much more serious in nature. He “got down to work” in the Senate and produced extensive arrays of legislation in his long career. His activism though, was on the liberal side of politics.

    Now, in the era of his older brothers, the main liberal causes were that of treating Negro race people with basic human dignity, giving farm employees safe working conditions, and helping the destitute poor. These were, for the most part, certainly noble endeavors. There also was the complex issue of the Vietnam War; President John and Robert initially strongly supported it, but latter, Senator Robert strongly opposed it.

    As time went on though, the liberal issues — which now Senator Edward was the forceful leader of — became agendas to restructure human society with a total breakdown of the religious/moral standards that hitherto had been the basis of human civilization. These included: women’s “liberation” — for women to become like men, women’s “rights” to have abortions, and “rights” for Toeiva people.

    V. There certainly was an intense infatuation with the Kennedy brothers. Probably the height of this “mystique” came with the address that President John delivered at his inauguration. In this brief but powerful speech, he utilized brilliant poetic expression to state the country’s ideals: “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans . . . ” He concluded with what was certainly to be one of the key statements of US history: “And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” “My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” (The full text can be seen at:

    The nation was electrified. Here was a call for idealism; here was a call for people to rise above their petty “give me” selfishness and do something for the world. When President John was killed, this quintessence was shattered. So understandably, there was a tremendous yearning and hope that each of the next two brothers would somehow restore it.

    Then when — right when he was well on the road to becoming president in 68 — Senator Robert was killed, it was a double blow. Then when the following year, Senator Edward had his disgraceful scandal at Chappaquiddick, coupled with eleven years latter that his presidential bid did not materialize, it all was a triple blow.

    The yearning — and dismay — certainly came to a climax in the summer of 1980 at the Democratic National Convention. I well remember the photograph taken inside Madison Square Garden, of people who were crying as Senator Kennedy announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy. With his powerful voice, he well echoed that poetic eloquence as he emotionally concluded the convention’s keynote address: ” . . . the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die!” (Full text can be seen at:

    Yes, poetic declarations of lofty goals are very, very beautiful. Our Torah teaches us though, that idealistic words need to be followed with idealistic actions of elevation, decency, and integrity. And the most important question is: which lofty goals are they? Are they goals of raising mankind up to serve HaShem?? Or, are they “goals” of ignoring G-D’s instructions in order to allow and even encourage human behavior to be thrown down to the depths of depravity??

    L’Aniyus Da’ati, these are some of the items we need to think about when we analyze the Kennedy legacy.


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