New York – Sanders May Play Down Judaism, But He Played Big Role In Channukah Case

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    Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders smiles after winning, at his 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary night rally in Concord, New Hampshire February 9, 2016.    REUTERS/Rick WilkingNew York – Jewish Presidential hopeful and Democratic New Hampshire primaries winner Bernie Sanders doesn’t talk much about his Jewish background but he has played a significant role in the 1989 US Supreme Court decision to allow Hannukah menorahs to be displayed on public property countrywide, research conducted recently by Chabad-Lubavitch revealed.

    In the 1980s and early 1990s, Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries introducing the public menorah were faced with opponents claiming that the Jewish displays violated the separation of church and state. Defenders argued that the menorahs were protected as a matter of freedom of speech and freedom to practice one’s religion. The cases were taken to court.

    One of these disagreements occurred in Burlington, Vermont during Bernie Sanders’ term as mayor of the city from 1981 to 1989. In December of 1983, Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries to Vermont Rabbis Yitzchak and Zeesy Raskin, approached Mayor Sanders’ office and requested permission to light a large 8-foot menorah on the steps of City Hall. Rabbi Raskin then extended an invitation to Mayor Sanders to light the menorah, which he accepted, the research conducted by Chabad.org’s Associate Editor David Margolin found.

    Three years later, in 1986, the Chabad emissaries asked permission to allow a 16-foot tall menorah to be erected in Burlington’s City Hall Park during all eight days of Chanukah yearly.

    The Sanders administration welcomed these requests, and granted full permission, but was immediately confronted by the American Civil Liberties Union who complained the menorah in a public space violated federal laws of the separation of church and state, also known as the Establishment Clause, which prohibits placing religious symbols on public property if it results in promoting religion.

    Following the complaint, Sanders asked City Attorney at the time Joseph McNeil to review the issue. McNeil responded to Sanders on December 5, 1986, attaching a legal opinion written by attorney Art Cernosia who wrote: “… Based on the Second Circuit case, it is my opinion that there is no legal bar for the City of Burlington to allow a menorah to be erected in the City’s park. I would recommend that the City require a prominent disclaimer sign to be posted by the display.”

    The ACLU was not pleased by the decision to display the menorah and threatened to file suit against the City of Burlington, which caught the attention of the New York Times.

    The article dated December 20, 1987 quotes Executive Director of the Vermont chapter of the civil liberties organization, saying that ”such religious symbols should not be displayed in front of public buildings because they give the impression of government endorsement of religion.”

    Burlington’s City Attorney McNeil is also quoted explaining that the City Hall had received “some unfortunate calls suggesting that, because the Governor [Madeleine Kunin] and the Mayor [Sanders] are both Jewish, we might be more inclined to allow a menorah than a creche.”

    “’It is not because the governor and the mayor are Jewish that the menorah is in the park,’ Mr. McNeil said.
    ACLU and activists decided to go through with filing a suit against the city in June of 1988 over the conflict. Sanders and his administration chose to vigorously defend their position in court despite much opposition.

    In a correspondence retrieved by Chabad.org, Rev. Paul Bortz urged Bernie Sanders to drop the case. Bortz wrote: “Come on Mayor Sanders, let’s drop the idea of any religious symbol being displayed on any government property. The whole idea is an extraordinary waste of taxpayers’ money. Or are you billing Lubavitch of Vermont for legal fees?”

    But days before Hannukah 1988, US District Judge Franklin S. Billings, Jr. ruled in favor of the Burlington menorah, The New York Times reported.

    Bernie Sanders’ and his administration’s deep involvement in the case contributed to opening the path for the US Supreme Court decision in the Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union case in which the Court considered the constitutionality of two recurring holiday displays located on public property.

    In addition to his fight for the menorah display, the Chabad-Lubavitch research showed Bernie Sanders had expressed strong admiration for Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, also known as the Rebbe, the last Lubavitcher Rebbe considered one of the most influential Jewish leaders of the 20th century.

    Sanders joined the national “Education Day” proclaimed annually on the date of the Rebbe’s Jewish calendric birthdate, and proclaimed Education Day in Burlington in honor of the Rebbe’s 81st birthday in 1983 and 83rd birthday in 1985.

    The Rebbe wrote a letter retrieved by Chabad.org to thank Sanders for the decision.

    In the letter, addressed to “The Honorable Bernard Sanders” Rabbi Schneerson wrote: “I sincerely appreciate your thoughtfulness in designating this Education Day in honor of my birthday. I trust that your action will stimulate greater awareness of the vital importance of education, not only among all your worthy citizens, but also in the State of Vermont.”

    Bernie Sanders was the first ever Jew to win a presidential contest on Tuesday night, as he obtained the majority of the Democratic votes in the New Hampshire primaries.

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    43 COMMENTS

    1. To those who accuse him of being a socialist / communist:

      Bernie is a democratic socialist. This means he calls for universal healthcare, subsidized college, and tax codes that help the working class, not just the billionaire class.

      In other words he is calling for the US to adopt similar social policies as countries as Australia, CANADA or the UK.

      Keep in mind that the US is the ONLY western country that doesn’t guarantee healthcare for ALL its citizens.

      • If only more Yidden understood the importance and emes of your comment. Very well said. But, oh the ostriches have their collective heads buried in the sands of mindless slogans and ideology. Again, very well said.

      • What are you smoking? I am not a conservative on many issues.
        1) But for starters I work for one of those evil wall street big banks that Bernie wants to take down. They hire huge amounts of people and are an engine for the economy. Yes the CEO’s get rich but so does the rest of the economy. I am a middle class earner. If he takes down my company I will loose my entire career and parnasa. When we say he cares for the “middle class”, it means Mcdonalds workers earning $9 an hour. Those earning over 50k will loose everything.
        2) Universal Health in Canada is a dismal failure. A simple medical procedure requires a three month wait. And the drs are horrible. Speak to anyone there. Obamacare has already messed up our system. The days when my child can go the dr and actually see and talk to the dr is over. Today pediatricians are a factory where the PA looks in one ear while writing out some perscription . he gives you about two minutes of his time then next patient. Because even good insurance plans only pay about $40 for a sick visit. (thats including co-pays).

        To be continued

      • 3) Subsidzed college for what? Will that add jobs? Will it bring in a net profit to the economy. Most college kids waste their time. If its for free, every kid will major in some silly liberal arts or anthropology and the government will be wasting time and money. It will not add up to more and better jobs.
        4) Tax codes that help working class? Even Bernie admitted the fiscally there is no way to implement his plan without also raising taxes on middle class earners. Those earning over $50,000 will suffer.
        5)”the US is the ONLY western country that doesn’t guarantee healthcare for ALL its citizens. ” yes very true. But we are also the ONLY western country to offer first class healthcare treatments and facilities. No country comes near us in our capabilities to treat the sick. There are no free lunches. Its a pay off. If you want world class medical treatment you will have to pay for it. And so yes guarnteed healthcare for all citizens is just not practical nor is it a right.
        The rich eat better foods, drive better cars, have nicer houses, get to go on much needed vacation. I am sorry thats life. As I tell my child you can’t cry just because your friend has a better lolli pop.

        • 1) Yes Banks are evil. They committed crimes with sub-par mortgages and not One Top executive is sitting. We the Taxpayers bailed them out with our money.
          2) Universal Health is a failure. Wow??? Life expectancy in every single Country from England to Israel is higher than it is in USA. The cost of the same medicine manufactured in the USA cost 70% less in Canada and all of Europa.
          3) “Most college kids vaste their time…” You claim you work for a big bank. Your College Education might have been a vaste of time, most peoples learn a profession.
          5) The rich eat better foods, drive better cars.. etc. Maybe the rich should also wage better wars in Iraq looking for weapons that don’t exist and killing 100.000 people and charging american midle class taxpayers 2 TRILLION. We at the Middle Class rather keep the 2 Trillion in the USDA for education etc. FEEL THE BERN. Bernie for President.

      • “Keep in mind that the US is the ONLY western country that doesn’t guarantee healthcare for ALL its citizens.”

        They guarantee coverage. Getting the care, thats another story. Do you wish to wait 6 months for a procedure you can have done in the US in less than 2 weeks?

    2. There are only two Jewish politicians that had a very good record on Israel. Former Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Independent Joe Lieberman. However, Lieberman , while supportive, was not proactive or aggressive in his views. Almost all Jewish Politicians are afraid of being called “Too Jewish”. The last thing we need is a left winged , K Street supporting Jew in the White House. It’s tough to swallow but even Hillary is a better choice for Israel than Bernie. And that is really bad news.

      • What a stupid comment. Do you live on Mars? Or maybe in the ghetto of your making. Recognize the generosity of this man;’s actions in the face of fierce opposition, which probably cost him a lot at election time. You would have folded like an accordeon when faced with such opposition.

      • Grandchildren don’t run the country. Presidents do. So A Jewish President with a Jewish Neshomeh is much better than a Meshugeneh Goy with Jewish Grandchildren.

      • “A Jewish Pres with Goyim Grandchildren or a goy with jewish grandchildren?” Many times i watched ZAKA in Israel cleaning up the blood after a terrorist act in a Club on Shabbos. They were Mechalel Shabos to clean up the remains of a none-orthodox YID. I hope they wouldn’t do that for a ARAB who marries a Yid (It happens all the time) and has Jewish Grandchildren.

    3. Bernie is Jewish, but it has no real impact on him. He is married to a non Jew and does not go to any synagogue.

      His connection to anything Jewish is really through his socialistic leanings.

      He might have worked on a kibbutz but he is not pro-Israel or pro-Jewish.

      Best to check into him carefully before getting any hopes up for a Jewish president.

      • “Worked on a kibbutz but he is not pro-Israel” Now that makes a lot of sense. If someone travels to Israel to Work and contribute to Israeli Society, as a Senator votes 100% on every military and economic aid to Israel he is not pro-Israel. If you doing nothing in Brooklyn, collecting welfare, food-stamps, medicaid and maybe go to a shiur or Kolel during the day if you are very bored that is Pro-Israel.

      • You should be so lucky to have one percent of the zechus of the tens of thousands of brochos and the countless “kiddush hashem”s that Chabad and its menorahs have done in the world.

        • You don’t get zechus from a brocho levatolo. According to the Rambam (that Chabad claims to learn) each of these ‘brochos’ are being oiver on one of the aseres hadibros. Shreklich!

    4. Those of you who are in love with Bernie’s socialist/ Democratic agenda, check out Venezuela. Chavez delivered the same and now the country is in a shambles with no food and with nothing working. Great idea!

      • “Check out Venezuela..” Yes. Venezuela, Iran, Russia are all in a bad shape thanks to the economic policies of President Obama. The USA is stronger than ever in the last 7 years. All our enemies: Chavez, Qaddafi, Bin Laden are dead. This has nothing to do with Bernie, a Senator from Vermont. It is the result of Obama’s Leadership (With Hashem Help) in the last 7 years. FEEL THE BURN

        • Slow down ridding Qaddafi was a big mistake.
          1) He was not our enemy. He made peace and started ridding himself of nukes
          2) Who came in instead. Lybia is in worse shape than we left it.

          And who says Russia is our enemy? Why is it in Americas interest to weaken Putin? Who cares if he takes over Ukraiane?

    5. To all of you holier than thou Jews- Remember that when Hitler (Y’mach Shimo Levracha), and his henchmen came to kill the Jews, they did not inquire who were assimilated, who were married to non-Jews, who were observant, who kept Kosher, who went to Shul, who were Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, etc. It appears that no matter which Jew runs for office, there will always be Jews on this site who would question how frum, or non-frum they are. I find this dissection despicable. If the goyim in 2016 are not bringing up Bernie’s religious roots, than why should Yidden?

    6. I saw a recent interview w Senator Sanders. He strongly represented that he is proudly Jewish, that his parents were Jews, and that his Judaism has positively impacted his idealism and his world outlook. Like many educated secular Jews, he is well aware of our history, and has chosen progressive socialism as the path to better mankind. He is absolutely NOT a Leninist Stalinist communist. Any attempt to slander him that way is intellectual simpletonism. Feel the Boin.

    7. A Jew who’s not shomer Torah umitzvos cannot and should not be trusted. Period! If there’s no fear of Heaven in matters between man and G-d, there’s no fear between man and man. He’d be a first class enemy of Israel as he admitted at a major media interview. All in order to demonstrate how “fair” he is ” although he’s Jewish”. Please, find yourself better and more worthy presidents.

    8. It’s amazing how many of you (and Jews in general) believe in, and are OK with socialism. Beside for everything else that’s wrong with it, but usually it leads to communism. And remember a Jew without Torah can be worse then a none Jew, look at all the liberal self hating Jews.

      • Wow, that’s a new one: “socialism leads to communism”! I suggest you put down your Chumash and pick up any secular history book about socialism (or anything) and read a few pages. Its easy to make broad nutty statements when you’re uneducated and without any facts. Ask Trump, that’s his forte.

        • “Put down your Chumash” NO. Open your Chumash and read it. Yosef Hatzadik invented Taxation (people had to give to the Govt) to redistribute it to the needy etc.

      • Socialism is TORAH. Vohavto lereacho… vaahavtem et hager.. Bezelem Elajkim .. etc. Love your brothers. Visit the Sick. Love the immigrants etc. All men are G-D creatures. (Even Blacks) Sanders entire platform is based on the Torah.

    9. To #28 (snagged)
      As is well known there is a machloikos haposkim regarding brochos at a Public Menorah lighting not in a shul. There are major poskim who have no issue with it (Rav Ovadiah Yosef ZTZ”L, Rav Binyomin Zilber ZTZ”L, and others). There are others who say it is a brocho l’vatolo. Most (though not all) of the Chabad Poskey halacha allow it. It is the height of arrogance to simply imply that they are all wrong because you happen to follow other poskim.

    10. To all who criticize universal healthcare. I live in Australia, we have both public and private healthcare. You wont find anyone in Australia who would like to get rid of public health and have just private health as in the US.

      42,000 people die each year in the US because they have no health insurance and cant afford to go to a doctor.

      The number in every western country that die because they are not able to afford healthcare is practically 0.

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