Part of this is likely because Sanders has over the decades not spoken often about his Judaism or what he believes or practices, according to profiles of him. Now the highly private Sanders seems to be opening the window a bit as a presidential candidate, if only to make the case that his drive for economic justice is deeply rooted in his philosophical DNA, and is even tribal.
This week Sanders gave some of his most detailed comments about the impact of his faith, telling the New Yorker
that two aspects of his lower-middle-class, World War II-era upbringing “exerted a lasting influence.” One was never having much money.
“And the other was growing up Jewish — less for the religious content than for the sense it imbued in him that politics mattered,” the New Yorker reported.
“Sanders told me that, in the aftermath of 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 someplace.’ Sanders learned that many of his father’s other relatives had perished. Sanders’s parents had been fundamentally apolitical, but he took away a lesson: ‘An election in 1932 ended up killing fifty million people around the world,’” the New Yorker piece said.
“Let me take a moment, or a few moments, to tell you what motivates me in the work that I do as a public servant, as a senator from the state of Vermont. And let me tell you that it goes without saying, I am far, far from being a perfect human being, but I am motivated by a vision, which exists in all of the great religions, in Christianity, in Judaism, in Islam and Buddhism and other religions."