bernie sanders
  • Faith: Judaism
  • Career: Actor
  • Birthday:  September 08, 1941

Bernie Sanders is an activist and politician who's the senior United States senator from Vermont. He's the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history but has a close relationship with the Democratic Party, having caucused with the Senate and House Democrats for most of his congressional career and sought the party's presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020, coming second in both campaigns. He's often seen as a leader of the U.S. progressive movement.

Born into a working-class family and raised in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, Sanders attended Brooklyn College before graduating from the University of Chicago in 1964. While a student, he was a protest organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the civil rights movement. After settling in Vermont in 1968, he ran an unsuccessful third-party political campaigns in the early to mid-1970s. He was elected mayor of Burlington in 1981 as an independent and was reelected three times. He won the election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990, representing Vermont's at-large congressional district, later co-founding the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

He was a U.S. representative for 16 years before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, notably becoming the first non-Republican elected to Vermont's Class 1 seat since Whig Solomon Foot was elected in 1850. Sanders entered a Senate where Vermont's senior senator, Patrick Leahy, was the first non-Republican to be elected to the U.S. Senate in the post-Civil War era. Sanders was reelected to the Senate in 2012 and 2018. He chaired the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee from 2013 to 2015 and the Senate Budget Committee from 2021 to 2023. In January 2023, he became chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the senior senator and dean of the Vermont congressional delegation upon Leahy's retirement from the Senate.

Sanders was a major candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020, receiving the second most votes in each. Despite initial low expectations, his 2016 campaign generated significant grassroots enthusiasm and funding from small-dollar donors, carrying him to victory against eventual nominee Hilary Clinton in 23 primaries and caucuses before he conceded in July. In 2020, his strong showing in early primaries and caucuses made him the frontrunner in a historically large field of Democratic candidates. In April 2020, Sanders conceded the nomination to Joe Biden, who had won a series of decisive victories as the field narrowed. He supported both Clinton and Biden in their respective general election campaigns against Donald Trump. He's since emerged as a close ally of Biden.

What religion is Bernie Sanders?

Sanders was born into a working-class Jewish family in Brooklyn. In a 2016 speech, he described his upbringing as an American Jew, saying his father generally attended synagogue only on Yom Kippur and attended public schools while his mother "chafed" at his yeshiva Sunday schooling at a Hebrew school and their religious observances were mostly limited to Passover seders with their neighbors. He had a bar mitzvah at the historic Kingsway Jewish Center in Midwood, Brooklyn, where he grew up.

When asked about his Jewish heritage, Sanders said he was "proud to be Jewish." However, he rarely speaks about religion, describing himself as "not particularly religious" and "not actively involved" with organized religion. He said he believes in God, but not in a traditional way. In 2015, on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," when asked if he believed in God, Sanders said, "I am who I am, and what I believe in and what my spirituality is about is that we're all in this together. That I think it is not a good thing to believe as human beings, we can turn our backs on the suffering of other people and this is not Judaism; this is what Pope Francis is talking about, that we can't just worship billionaires and the making of more and more money. Life is more than that.”

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