Be­ing Jewish made me po­lit­i­cal

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY JC RE­PORTER

DEMOCRATPRESIDENTIAL­can­di­date Bernie San­ders has opened up about his Jewish back­ground.

The left-wing Mr San­ders, who has long been re­luc­tant to dis­cuss his roots, told the New Yorker in a re­cent in­ter­view that grow­ing up in a less-than-wealthy Jewish fam­ily in­stilled in him the idea that pol­i­tics mat­tered.

“There was ten­sion about money,” Mr San­ders told the New Yorker. “I know what it’s like when the elec­tric com­pany shuts off the elec­tric­ity — all that stuff.”

Mr San­ders’s fa­ther trav­elled to the US from Poland at the age of 17, and strug­gled through the De­pres­sion.

Sid Ga­nis, a Hol­ly­wood pro­ducer who grew up in the same build­ing as Mr San­ders, said that their neigh­bour­hood in Brook­lyn was an en­clave of “or­di­nary sec­u­lar Jews”, adding: “Some of us went to He­brew school, but mainly it was an iden­tity in that it got us out of school on Jewish hol­i­days.”

San­ders told the New Yorker that, fol­low­ing the Sec­ond World War, his fam­ily “got a call in the mid­dle of the night about some rel­a­tive of my fa­ther’s, who was in a dis­placed per­sons’ camp in Europe some place.”

Mr San­ders learnt that many of his fa­ther’s other rel­a­tives had been killed. Mr San­ders’s par­ents had been apo­lit­i­cal, but he took away a les­son: “An elec- tion in 1932 ended up killing 50 mil­lion peo­ple around the world.”

Richard Su­gar­man, an Ortho­dox Jew who teaches at the Univer­sity of Ver­mont, is a close friend of Mr San­ders. He said: “He’s not what you would call rule-ob­ser­vant, but if you talk about his Jewish iden­tity, it’s strong. It’s cer­tainly more eth­nic and cul­tural than re­li­gious — ex­cept for his de­vo­tion to the eth­i­cal part of public life in Ju­daism, the moral part.”

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