Bernie Sanders' Big Brother Larry Sanders speaks out at Oxford Chabad Society Shabbat Dinner about Jewish Identity

Monday, 9 May, 2016 - 4:45 pm

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 10.05.13 pm.pngLarry Sanders, older brother and inspiration to US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, attended a Friday night Shabbat dinner this past week at the Oxford University Chabad Society’s Slager Jewish student centre. 


Larry, who studied at Harvard and Oxford, and currently serves as health spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales, spoke to a packed audience of close to 100 students and faculty about his upbringing, family and what inspired him and his brother, Bernie, to enter politics. Larry attributed the rise of Hitler to power in 1933 and the subsequent horrors of the Holocaust, as well as the Civil Rights movements as the two inspirations that led him and Bernie to understand that politics is a serious issue - one in which a real difference can be made to the world, both for good and evil.


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Larry recalled how he ‘schlepped’ his brother Bernie to political party events when they were younger and joked that the meetings were so boring he almost put Bernie off politics altogether. 


When asked about his family’s Jewish identity, Larry affirmed that being Jewish is everything they are, as an inseparable part of their identity. He mentioned that he was disappointed by the negative views towards Bernie’s Jewish identity and said that he think it is due to a misunderstanding and possibly a generational gap - Larry and Bernie were born in 1934 and 1941 respectively. He explained that being Jewish for him and his brother is being part and product of a great Jewish civilization that includes both, belief and religion, as well as values, culture and peoplehood, and that everything they stand for is inspired by these roots. 


In reflection about the tenacity of his brother’s election campaign, Larry discussed Bernie’s longstanding passion for cross-country running since high school. He commented that cross-country running demands, like politics, a fixed eye on the finish line, viewing ups and downs not as obstacles but as a necessary part of the terrain towards one's goal.

Questions were raised about Larry’s relationship with his brother, what disagreements they may have, which he understandably declined to divulge, and numerous other issues of interest to the students. 

Larry was warmly welcomed by Director of the Oxford University Chabad Society Rabbi Eli Brackman and introduced by Oxford Professor of Politics and best selling author Professor Sir Mallory Factor and President of the Oxford University Chabad Society Sam Bodansky (St Peter's College).

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