This week, Rabbi Jason Rosner of the Wimbledon Synagogue selects presidential candidate Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders exemplifies the American-Jewish dream. He is the son of immigrants from Galicia, Poland, who has made good, risen through the ranks of local politics and is running for the presidency.
Throughout his life, Senator Sanders has tried to live in accordance with his beliefs, popular or not. He worked on a kibbutz, campaigned for racial integration, and has used the word “socialist,” which would have been unthinkable in a presidential candidate, even one election cycle previous.
Senator Sanders is not involved in synagogue life but does draw upon his Jewish roots on the campaign trail. He employs Yiddish catchphrases on occasion. His campaign has even sold a tote bag printed with the words ‘Bernie Shlep Bag: Shlepping the Progressive Agenda’.
Bernie’s style has caused him to be parodied by Larry David (of Curb Your Enthusiasm) and he appeared in a self-mocking sketch with the comedian, a testament to his sense of humour. Whether or not one agrees with his politics, Sanders stays on message.
While other candidates may have attacked one another, Bernie has mostly addressed his policy concerns. Leviticus suggests we should not pervert justice by showing favour to the rich or poor. Senator Sanders advocates for a strong middle-class and funds his campaign widely, so as not to be beholden to individual interests.
Grassroots organising has been a key in his campaign, and following on the campaigns of President Obama, he has surprised the country by mobilising the young electorate.
This is ironic, as Sanders is one of the oldest candidates on the field at the moment. He is representing an outsider perspective, even as a long-serving politician.
Rather than a political endorsement, my selection of Sanders comes out of admiration for his achievements. Sanders has broken a political barrier and is a hero.