His victory Tuesday night in New Hampshire broke a barrier as old as the republic: The Vermont senator became the first Jewish candidate to win a presidential nominating contest.
But even as that path-breaking feat was in touching distance in the days before the primary, and attention increasingly focused on his surging campaign for the Democratic nomination, the Brooklyn-born politician’s religion received little mention on the national stage until CNN’s Anderson Cooper noted it while moderating a town hall with the Democratic presidential candidates last week.
In part, that’s because Sanders, a self-identified democratic socialist, has repeatedly described himself as a secular Jew without strong ties to organized religion. But Jewish political activists, students of history and pollsters say the candidate’s minority faith has also been overlooked because attitudes toward Jews in America have evolved to the point where there’s no stigma attached to his background.
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