Bernie Sanders opens up about his Judaism and his family's painful Holocaust history


Bernie Sanders gave his most extensive remarks yet about his connection to his Jewish faith, and his family’s experiences during the Holocaust, at Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate.

If elected, Sanders would be the first Jewish president, but some Jews have said that they feel he has downplayed his religious background. On Sunday, moderator Anderson Cooper asked him if this was so.

This was the response Sanders gave:

“I am very proud to be Jewish and being Jewish is so much of what I am. Look. My father’s family was wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust. I know about what crazy and 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 had numbers on their arms because they were in Hitler’s concentration camp. I am very proud of being Jewish and that is an essential part of who I am as a human being.”

As Fusion’s Casey Tolan has noted, Sanders shares many similarities with a long line of Jewish socialists:

[T]hat doesn’t mean that Jewish and socialist politicians haven’t played a big role in American politics in the past. In fact, some of Sanders’ proudest positions, from fighting inequality to providing universal healthcare, can be traced back to Jewish socialist politicians from the early 20th century.

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