Wednesday, April 14th | 2 Iyyar 5781

January 28, 2016 5:06 am

Jewish Candidates Run, Free of Bigotry, in Presidential Election

avatar by Ronn Torossian

Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton debating on CNN. Photo: Screenshot.

Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton debating on CNN. Photo: Screenshot.

Politics aside, the extraordinary popularity of Bernie Sanders has been a surprise. Adding to that, the rumblings of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggesting a possible run has also come as a surprise.

In an election season where a woman is the dominant Democratic candidate, coming off a two term stint by an African-American man, it is interesting that there are two Jewish candidates in the mix. Of course, politics cannot be overlooked, and the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Senator Sanders pose significant issues — both for the United States and Israel — that must not be ignored.

While Bernard Sanders does not hold his Jewish credentials up high, he is Brooklyn born, and raised by Polish Jewish immigrants; his father lost his family in the Holocaust.  Sanders spent time in Israel on a kibbutz, and his socialistic ideologies remain apparent today. He is a devout agnostic, although he observes Yom Kippur in his own way. He has a decidedly questionable record on Israel.

Bloomberg is a proud Jew who traveled to Israel just to make a point after the FAA banned flights to Ben Gurion Airport during Operation Protective Edge. He’s very pro-Israel. And while I don’t believe he will run, New York’s former mayor is an interesting retort to Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who recently used New York as a criticism against Donald Trump, claiming that he “comes from New York and he embodies New York values.”

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These Jewish candidates are mainstream and their religion has not been the focus. Sanders is widely loved by his supporters for his populist appeal and sincerity, and Bloomberg for his business acumen and accomplishments as a three-term mayor of New York City. To the enthusiasts of both, they are great candidates who happen to be Jewish; not the other way around.

In electing Barack Obama, the country proved that it could get beyond skin color.

Imagine going to a high end restaurant, ornately decorated, featuring a gourmet chef who is both daring and distinct. You enjoy a glass of a remarkable Italian Toscana IGT, as you begin to eat the Sasafrass barbecue babyback rib appetizer. It is followed by an exquisitely prepared Branzino saffron barigoule, and then you sip brandy and have dessert. You never once consider where you are, because you know that you are in one of the top New York restaurants. You never once considered it was kosher, but it was the New York eatery at the Setai Hotel on Wall Street; Reserve Cut.

It is the same thing we see today in this election. Clinton, a woman whose daughter is married to a Jew; Trump, whose daughter converted to Orthodox Judaism; Sanders, a Brooklyn Jew; and possibly Bloomberg, a Boston-born, New York Jew. Each, so far, has been looked at for their experience and credentials. Each of them has many supporters all over the country who are excited for them for what they bring to the nation’s table.

Again, politics notwithstanding, and I can offer strong opinions on each of them, this part is good to know.

5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian is decidedly voting for ABC — Anyone but Clinton.

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