“Being Jewish is so much of what I am.” -Bernie Sanders
It has not gone unnoticed that Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, and a presidential nominee hopeful from the Democratic Party, did not mention his religion often in the beginning of his campaign. This is all the more unique, if he is elected, Sanders will have the honor of being the first Jew to hold the presidential post in United States.
However, as Sanders pointed out in a media led Democratic presidential debate, this does not mean that he is disowning that aspect of his identity. He told the assembled audience that he is extremely proud to be Jewish and that religion partly describes him.
Bernie Sanders answers the Jewish question: "I am very proud of being Jewish. It is an essential part of who I am."
— Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg) March 7, 2016
The senator was questioned concerning his religious beliefs at a debate. The Vermont man then answered honestly about his faith and heritage. He then told the assembled audience his family history. Sanders' family was almost obliterated by Hitler during the Holocaust. He added that he learned quite early in life the implications of radical and crazy extremism. It was clear to his audience that the senator was talking about Donald Trump.
Sanders told the audience that he learned about the dangers of extremism when, as a small child, his mother would take him out shopping and he would see individuals working in stores and whose arms had numbers on them. He later learned that these people were inmates of Hitler's concentration camp. He also told his audience that he has no link with organized religion. He, however, said that he believed in God, and to him it means that all humans and life are connected, and that all living things on earth are tied together.
Sanders, it has been noted, does not make any direct references to his Jewish roots. He passively avoids the topic during his speeches or at debates. When asked about his religious beliefs, his answers are pat ones and involves him explaining how his progressive mindset was influenced by spirituality. It is interesting to note that, Bernie refers to his father simply as a “Polish immigrant” and not a Jewish immigrant from Poland.
Sanders' views were taken up in large numbers by social media. Twitter reported that it was the third most popular point of topic on that particular site. In contrast, when Clinton was questioned about her faith, she replied by providing a description of what she prays for- including the well-being of individuals in authority and humility.