The Heresy and Evangelism of Bernie Sanders | Village Voice
We shouldn’t be surprised by this insistence that Bernie invoke the Holocaust: Museums, school curricula, and the culture generally have so diligently cultivated the image of Jews as primarily survivors or victims of the Holocaust that we’ve learned to see this, and not all that solidarity talk, as properly Jewish. But Sanders carries on a Jewish tradition much longer, and more sacred, than merely paying lip service to the Holocaust. His every utterance about universal health care, economic inequality, and social justice relentlessly embraces Judaism; it’s just a Judaism many people no longer recognize. Bernie Sanders is a Jew of a different era — the kind of Jew that Zionists would very much like us to forget.
The New York of Sanders’s childhood was full of Yiddish socialists. Often, these were Jews of Sanders’s sort, their spiritual practice less fixated on giving glory to God on high than fighting for emancipation here on earth. Although that interpretation of Judaism may seem profane, even blasphemous, at first blush, it has a firm basis in scripture.
The Torah repeatedly reminds Jews that, because we were strangers in Egypt, we are obligated in turn to welcome the stranger in the course of our lives. Scripture also tells us that our religious ceremonies are not ends unto themselves but a means through which to fortify our spirits for earthly liberation work: From Isaiah, we learn that our fasting on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, is not for the purpose of “mak[ing] your voice to be heard on high,” but rather “to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke.”