The Jewish Senator and Socialist

Editors' Note: This is part of the Faith of the Candidates series. Learn about the religious and political beliefs of the other presidential candidates here.

Faith Affiliation: Jewish

Current Religious Attendance: non-practicing

Learn more about the history and beliefs of Judaism.

Bernie Sanders grew up in Brooklyn, New York. His father was an immigrant from Poland, and his maternal grandparents were immigrants from Poland and Russia. He was raised Jewish, attended Hebrew school, and celebrated his bar mitzvah. While his parents practiced their faith, they were not strongly religious. Sanders values his religious heritage, but does not attend synagogue or observe Jewish rituals or holidays.

Sanders graduated from the University of Chicago. During college, Sanders joined the Socialist League; he protested segregation and was arrested for his civil rights activism. He moved to Vermont in his late twenties and worked for a while as a writer. Sanders was elected the mayor of Burlington, VT, and served for eight years before running for U.S. House of Representatives. He served as a Representative for sixteen years until he ran for, and won, a seat as the U.S. Senator from Vermont. Sanders ran as a Socialist but declared himself a Democrat in November 2015. He is 74 years old.

Sanders is married to Jane, who for a time served as president of Burlington College, VT. They have three children, born to Jane prior to her marriage to Sanders. Sanders had no children with his first wife, Deborah. He has one son, Levi, who was born to his girlfriend. He has seven grandchildren.

Bernie Sanders:

    1. Advocates for universal healthcare
    2. Proposes raising the minimum wage
    3. Argues that paid family leave should be mandatory
    4. Advocates for LGBT rights
    5. Is pro-choice and supports Planned Parenthood

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