Bernie Sanders

official photo: “Bernie Sanders” by United States Congress c. 2007 – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Birth Name: Bernard Sanders

Place of Birth: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.

Date of Birth: September 8, 1941

Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish

Bernie Sanders is an American politician. He has served as a U.S. Senator from Vermont, since January 3, 2007. He was previously Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, from April 6, 1981 to April 4, 1989, and a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Vermont, from January 3, 1991 to January 3, 2007.

He was a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States in 2016 and 2020. While he was not on the ballot, he received an electoral vote for President from a faithless elector in the 2016 presidential election.

Bernie is the son of Dorothy “Dora” (Glassberg) and Elias Ben Yehuda Sanders. His father was a Polish Jewish emigrant, who was born in Słopnice, and moved to the U.S. in 1921. His mother was born in New York, to Jewish emigrant parents (from Poland and Russia). Bernie had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony. Bernie’s uncle, Abraham Schnützer, was killed in the Holocaust in Poland in 1942. Abraham was Bernie’s father’s half-brother.

Bernie is married to social worker, college administrator, and political staffer Jane O’Meara Sanders, who is of Irish descent. He has a son with his former partner, Susan Campbell Mott. Bernie’s brother, Larry Sanders, lives in the U.K., and is an academic and Green Party spokesperson.

A picture of young Bernie (left) with his mother and brother can be seen here.

A DNA test whose results were displayed on the show Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2017) stated that Bernie’s genetic ancestry is:

*97.7% Ashkenazi Jewish
*0.1% East Asian/Yakut

The DNA test found a close genetic relation between Bernie and comedian, actor, writer, and producer Larry David, to whom he is often compared. Such a genetic relation is common for people of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

Bernie’s paternal grandfather was named Leibisch “Leon” Yehuda Sander.

Bernie’s paternal grandmother was Ettel/Etla/Jetti “Ethel” Guttman (the daughter of Elias Horn and Chaia Guttman). Ettel was born in Słopnice.

Bernie’s maternal grandfather was Benjamin/Benyamin Ben Avraham Meier Glassberg (the son of Abraham Moshe/Avraham Meir Ben Eliezer Glassberg and Frejda/Frajda Mindla Mlynarz). Benjamin was born in Radzyń Podlaski, Lulbeskie, Poland. Bernie’s great-grandfather Abraham Moshe was the son of Eliezer “Louis” Glassberg/Glasberg and Sarah Feige/Fajge. Frejda was the daughter of Chaim Mlynarz and Zelda Appeloig/Appelolg.

Bernie’s maternal grandmother was named Breine “Bessie” Greenberg. Breine was born in Russia.

Bernie Sanders is the first person of Jewish religion to have won a caucus and/or primary for a major American political party’s Presidential nomination. He won 23 contests in 2016, with the New Hampshire primary being the first, and 9 contests in 2020.

Two people of Jewish heritage have been nominated for President of the United States by a major party. Barry Goldwater, nominated by the Republican Party in 1964, was the first (Goldwater was born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, and was raised an Episcopalian). John Kerry, nominated by the Democratic Party in 2004, was the second (Kerry’s paternal grandparents were born Jewish, though Kerry’s father and Kerry himself were raised Catholic).

Joe Lieberman, who is Jewish, was nominated for Vice President of the United States by the Democratic Party in 2000.

Other than Bernie Sanders, four people of Jewish heritage have won a major party’s presidential caucus and/or primary:
*Barry Goldwater (1964, the year he was nominated; Republican; won 7 states; Goldwater also sought the 1960 Republican nomination)
*John Kerry (2004, the year he was nominated; Democratic; won 51 contests)
*Wesley Clark (who sought the 2004 Democratic nomination; won 1 state, Oklahoma; Clark was born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, and is a practicing Catholic)
*Michael Bloomberg (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; won 1 territory, American Samoa)

Of the five, Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg are Jewish by religion.

Other people of significant Jewish heritage who have mounted plausible or semi-plausible campaigns for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States are:
*Milton Shapp (who sought the 1976 Democratic nomination)
*Larry Agran (who sought the 1992 Democratic nomination)
*Arlen Specter (who sought the 1996 Republican nomination)
*Joe Lieberman (who sought the 2004 Democratic nomination)
*John H. Cox (who sought the 2008 Republican nomination)
*Fred Karger (who sought the 2012 Republican nomination)
*Marianne Williamson (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination)
*Michael Bennet (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination)
*Tom Steyer (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination)

Shapp, Agran, Specter, Lieberman, Karger, and Williamson were/are all Jewish by religion. Bennet and Steyer were raised in mixed-faith households, Bennet with a Jewish mother and Steyer was a Jewish father. Shapp was the first person of Jewish religion to mount a prominent campaign for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States.

Kirsten Gillibrand, a Catholic with a Jewish great-grandfather, also sought the 2020 Democratic nomination.

Sources: Genealogies of Bernie Sanders –

Genealogies, and obituaries, of Bernie’s parents –

Bernie’s parents on the 1940 U.S. Census –

Genealogy of Bernie Sanders (focusing on his mother’s side) –

Bernie’s mother on the 1930 U.S. Census –

46 Responses

  1. cwm85 says:

    You are ignorant…

  2. bearboy says:

    Follers about our topic about Ashkenazi Jews having Polish (or Eastern European) non-Jewish ancestry along with Irish ancestry I found some facts. According to ancestry DNA I looked up European Jewish (which is one of their 26 regions) among the people native to the the Ashkenazi Jewish region 2% have some Irish and 2% have some Eastern European (non-Jewish) ancestry. Even though there is no reason to think Bernie Sanders is either ethnicity I don’t think we can say it’s 100% impossible.

    • bearboy says:

      I think Bernie Sanders should be tagged as Israeli being that he lived there.

      • follers says:

        If Sanders (or anyone else from the modern era) had Israeli citizenship, I would tag them as Israeli. But I don’t think Sanders ever did.

        • passingtime85 says:

          bearboy, ancestryDNA is terribly unreliable, it’s the least reliable among the three big commercial testing companies. Bernie Sanders is probably 99% Ashkenazi, with some of the DNA probably being unassignable, but that too is probably Ashkenazi, it’s just from DNA pools that haven’t been categorized yet.

          • bearboy says:

            Good point @Passingtime85 but I sorta doubt that 99% of his ancestry is Jewish going back 500-1000 years back. but you’re right ancestryDNA does have flaws

          • passingtime85 says:

            On the 99%, I’m not sure. I have relatives that look very much like him, and that side of the family is +99% Ashkenazi, with fractions of a percent attributed to as Middle Eastern/North African, and then oddly enough East Asian, but I suspect that’s most likely just genetic “noise”. Looks are not always a strong indicator of heritage. I think this site actually sort of helps prove that.

          • follers says:

            I don’t think he’s talking about Sanders’ looks, I just think he’s referring to some kind of non-Jewish ancestry from 500+ years ago that all Jews have, like the Chinese ancestor he apparently found for Judge Judy 1000 or so years ago. I don’t think such ancestry even appears on most DNA tests.

        • bearboy says:

          Yes, I wasn’t referring to Bernie Sanders appearance (however I find Jewish woman the most attractive). But I guess I was wrong and Ashkenazi Jews are more homogeneous in only the past 500 years than I used to think, ending of course a few generations ago when intermarriages became very common. BTW speaking of Judaism either one of you heard anything about the new Dirty Dancing movie and whether it is going to be good? Also wanted to get down to the answer of what led the NYP to write Abigail Breslin has Jewish ancestry???

          • passingtime85 says:

            Haven’t heard anything review wise, but television remakes rarely outshine theatrical releases. No idea where the NY Post got that impression.

          • bearboy says:

            okay and about Sanders, I have a friend who is half Jewish, half Northern European (British, Irish, German etc.) took the 23andme test and was only 44.2% Ashkenazi. so clearly his Jewish parent had some non-Jewish ancestry that they could detect.

          • passingtime85 says:

            Yes, it seems almost no one is designated 100% Ashkenazi on 23andme. On 23andme you can share your DNA composition with other users. I’m linked with two users that are 99.9% Ashkenazi, their remaining tenths of percents are attributed to East Asian, and one has the designation of having .1% as unassigned. Which I find odd. Because that’s what my makeup percentages, that I received from my paternal side, reflect as well. Although it’s been said that Ashkenazi merchants would travel to East Asia and bring home brides, I personally I feel like when Ashkenazi Jews show those East Asian genes, I feel like it’s more likely genetic noise or mislabeling.

            A few years back when Larry David took a DNA test for George Lopez, he showed up has having Native American heritage. A geneticist, Megan Smolenyak, said that NA DNA actually looks like Ashkenazi DNA and that’s what was the cause of confusion. Well Native American DNA signatures are basically East Asian signatures. So when I see Ashkenazis with East Asian DNA I personally just chalk it up to the DNA’s looking similar, and the individuals with those results are not actually descended from East Asian ancestors.

            Long story short DNA tests haven’t been perfected yet and should not be treated as gospel. In addition to that however I don’t believe anyone from a major industrialized country really could have a 100% pure pedigree. There’s just too much immigration for that to be possible. Even in groups that are generally considered endogamous, miscegeny is bound to happen, especially over the course of centuries. Although smaller countries, with not a whole lot immigration, could very well produce people with backgrounds that are completely rooted in said countries.

  3. bearboy says:

    Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama are two people I would be interested in seeing their DNA results if they ever were to take a test like on, “Finding Your Roots.” I always thought Sanders could have a drop of Irish in him, a lot of my Ashkenazi Jewish friends who were tested came up very mixed as well.

  4. bearboy says:

    I have to say Bernie you really impressed @Bearboy tonight!

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