Sanders: ‘I’m Proud to Be Jewish’
It happened. After months of refusing to discuss it in public, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders referred to his Jewish faith as something he’s proud of and as is an essential part of who he is.
“I am very proud of being Jewish and that is an essential part of who I am as a human being,” Sanders said Sunday night during the Democratic presidential debate on CNN.
Sanders was asked by CNN moderator Anderson Cooper to respond to recent critics of him hiding his Jewish faith, despite being the first successful Jewish presidential candidate in history, after he was asked by an undecided voter about believing in God.
“I’m very proud to be Jewish, and being Jewish is so much of what I am,” Sanders stated. “My father’s family was wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust. I know about what crazy, radical and extremist politics mean. I learned that lesson as a tiny, tiny child when my mother would take me shopping, and we would see people working in stores who have numbers on their arms because they were in Hitler’s concentration camp.”
This is the first time Sanders responded directly to his Jewish faith on prime time TV. In New Hampshire after his stunning win and the first for a Jewish presidential candidate, Sanders described himself as “the son of a Polish immigrant,” not as Jewish. At a recent Democratic TV debate, the Vermont Senator spoke of the historic nature of “somebody with my background” running for the highest office in the nation, but to the dismay of many, he did not refer to his Jewishness.
Sanders, who’s secular, also said he believes God is relevant. “Senator Sanders, do you believe that God is relevant, why or why not?” Denise Ghattas, an undecided voter who grew up in Flint, Michigan, asked.
“The answer is yes,” Sanders responded. “And I think when we talk about God whether it is Christianity, or Judaism, or Islam, or Buddhism, what we are talking about is what all religions hold dear. And, that is to do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.”