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For Jews and non-Jews in Iowa Alike, Sanders’ Religion Seems to Matter Little

Haaretz – by Josh Tapper

JTA – On a frigid night in what has been an unusually cold winter here, Bernie Sanders packed more than 1,200 people into the resplendent Orpheum Theatre, a nearly 90-year-old venue in this western Iowa outpost across the Missouri River from Nebraska.

After taking the stage late Tuesday night, the independent Vermont senator vying for the Democratic presidential nomination launched into a nearly 30-minute exegesis on the American economy in typically stem-winding fashion, railing against wealth inequality before turning his attention to the noisome effects of money in politics, paid family leave and other frequent themes of his raucous stump speeches.  

The Brooklyn-born Sanders’ brash delivery and in-your-face moxie might seem out of place in idyllic, largely rural Iowa, but the style is resonating with Democratic voters here. Indeed in liberal-leaning Des Moines, the state capital, it is mostly Sanders signs that pepper the snowy front lawns in the city’s central neighborhoods. And it is the face of Sanders — actually 15 of them — that adorns a T-shirt sold by Raygun, a popular local clothing store with a wide selection of caucus-themed apparel. Nearly 250 of the $39 novelty shirts have been sold since early October.

“It’s like your grandpa is running for president,” said Lauren Matysik, a Raygun graphic designer. “It’s so cute.”

While concerns have been raised that Sanders’ crotchety zayde image –described recently as “very Jewish” by one political strategist – could ultimately serve as a handicap in a general election, there is agreement here among both Jews and non-Jews that Sanders’ religion is a moot point this early in election season.

“His affect is very Jewish, but I don’t hear a lot of people talking about it,” said Steven Edelman-Blank, the rabbi at Tifereth Israel, a Conservative synagogue in Des Moines. “It’s significant how little of an issue his Jewishness is. I don’t hear a lot of people backing Bernie because of that.”

Dennis Goldford, a Drake University political scientist and frequent commentator on Iowa politics, said there is little reason for Iowans to associate Sanders’ persona at the microphone with his Jewish identity. Unlike some other prominent Jewish politicians, Sanders does not wear his religion on his sleeve. And Sanders’ Brooklyn accent does not scream “Jewish” in Iowa the way it might elsewhere.

“His Jewishness is relatively invisible to Iowans at large,” said Goldford, a member of Temple B’nai Jeshurun, a Reform congregation in Des Moines. “In various venues it just doesn’t come up, and he doesn’t mention it.”

Perhaps the only time it has come up in Iowa was after a speech hosted by the Jewish Federation of Des Moines in September. Goldford, who moderated the event, recalled that an audience member asked Sanders “what impact his Jewishness has on his political views.” Goldford sensed that the question caught Sanders off-guard.

“He did not seem to be uncomfortable,” Goldford said. “But he seemed not used to answering a question like that.”

With the Iowa caucuses less than two weeks away, Sanders, backed by an extensive grassroots campaign, is riding a groundswell of Democratic support in the state. Last week, a Des Moines Register poll showed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton leading Sanders by only 2 percentage points. Another poll, by Quinnipiac University, placed Sanders ahead 49–44, a surprising tally considering the senator was suffering a 9-point deficit as recently as December.

Tony Ewing, who owns a bed-and-breakfast near Drake, said Iowa’s Democrats “don’t notice” and “don’t care” about their candidates’ religious identities.

“Especially in Iowa, people tend to stick with the issues and topics of the day,” Ewing said. “[Sanders’s] faith has never come up in any conversations I’ve had, and I’ve talked with a lot of folks.”

At Maccabee’s, a kosher deli in Des Moines, the proprietor and local Chabad rabbi, Yossi Jacobson, riffed on Sanders’s growing appeal. He showered the senator with effusive praise — “Hillary’s ‘been there, done that,’” — and asserted that Sanders’ religion does matter, regardless of what Iowans, or even Sanders himself, might believe.

“Bernie is giving hope to so many that we are all equal,” Jacobson said. “He is bringing a timeless message of what Jews always knew to be true — that we are all equal.”

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/1.698977

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7 Responses to For Jews and non-Jews in Iowa Alike, Sanders’ Religion Seems to Matter Little

  1. # 1 NWO Hatr says:

    “… an audience member asked Sanders “what impact his Jewishness has on his political views.” Goldford sensed that the question caught Sanders off-guard.”

    Very little…

    … other than the fact that he & all his jewb#tch buddies want to kill 90%+ of all the non-jews in the world.

    “He is bringing a timeless message of what Jews always knew to be true — that we are all equal.”

    BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    SERIOUSLY???

  2. Martist says:

    “But is it good for the joos?”

    Age old question that clearly demonstrates the equality they have in mind for humanity.

  3. Millard says:

    That’s the plan, Hillary and Trump take each other out and it’s Bernie to the rescue.

  4. Jolly Roger says:

    “It’s like your grandpa is running for president,” said Lauren Matysik, a Raygun graphic designer. “It’s so cute.”

    This bimbo shouldn’t be allowed to vote, ever.

    Bernie Sanders, in addition to being a commie, is also a pathological liar, but that was last week’s news, so the idiots don’t remember that.

  5. flee says:

    Bernie..aka..the “Colonel Sanders” is starting a new fried chicken franchise don’t cha know.
    It’s called KFC.
    K osher
    F ascist
    C hicken
    I love their matziball coleslaw and extra crispy Palestinian bbq wings.
    Just order the #4 it’ll save you some time in the drive thru.

  6. Mel says:

    wait, so you’re telling me that israel can kill whoever they want to take back land they claim was stolen from them?
    sounds interesting
    says the natives

  7. BMF says:

    Religion matters little to most Jews, and belief in Judaism (or any other religion) isn’t the basis on which most Jews determine who is or isn’t Jewish. The Jews can be best described as a tribe, or a nation without borders, united by a sick ideology of ethnic supremacy.

    A commonly encountered Judeofascist/neocon talking point declares that Islam is a political movement masquerading as a religion. This claim is highly ironic, since it is FAR more accurately applied to Jews than to Muslims.

    While it is not possible to be a Muslim without believing in Islam, MOST Jews are non-religious. In spite of this, Jews often try to represent their tribal affiliation as a matter of religious belief, at least when they’re talking to non-Jews. Meanwhile, Jews are highly active in politics, especially on the left and the neocon right. Muslims have very little political power in the US, and I’ll believe otherwise when US politicians start going on pilgrimages to Mecca as often as they go to Israel.

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