The question is being asked in search bars around America: Is Bernie Sanders Jewish? In the 24 hours after Sanders declared on May 26 that he was running for president as a Democrat, it was the second most Googled question about him, according to MSNBC.
(The No. 1 question: How old is Bernie Sanders? Answer: 73.)
And though Sanders has since publicly discussed how being Jewish helped kick-start his political journey, search data shows many people are still asking. The short answer of course: Sanders is Jewish.
Here are 5 defining facts about his Jewishness.
1. His father’s family was wiped out in the Holocaust
Sanders grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, as the son of working class Polish Jewish immigrants. His mother was a housewife and his father sold paint. He has said that he was “very conscious as a kid that my father’s whole family was killed by Hitler.”
2. He was a young kibbutznik
After graduating from the University of Chicago in 1964, the young Sanders made an early foray into socialist life when he spent several months on an Israeli kibbutz.
3. He’s “proud” to be Jewish but isn’t religious
Sanders recently told the Christian Science Monitor that his Jewish roots taught him about the importance of politics. “A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932,” he told the Monitor. “He won an election, and 50 million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including 6 million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important.”
4. He stands up for Israel; but don’t think he’s an Israeli citizen
In a radio interview last month, NPR host Diane Rehm mistakenly asserted that Sanders had dual Israeli-American citizenship. An offended Sanders called the assertion nonsensical and defended his American loyalty. “You know, my dad came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket. He loved this country,” Sanders said.
5. He’s not a big fan of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Sanders boycotted Netanyahu’s speech to Congress in March that protested the Iran deal. Sanders also issued a statement after the speech.
“It goes without saying that Iran must not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. It goes without saying that the United States will stand by our long-standing friendship and support for the nation of Israel. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Netanyahu did not offer any serious alternatives to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” the statement read.