Bernie Sanders is walking the streets of Philadelphia Tuesday, drumming up support for his bid to earn the Democratic nomination for President. Early in the day, Sanders took to Reading Terminal Market to gladhand with those packed in trying to grab a pre-work breakfast. And free pretzels.
In a clear attempt to endear himself to supporters in Philly, Sanders ended up sandwiched between the masses, many wrapped tightly around their political hero. Or they were just in line to snag a free pretzel. Because if there are two things the masses love in Philly it’s free stuff and soft pretzels.
Only, what about the Jews?
As millions of Jews around the world, and surely in and around the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, gnaw down on crumbly sheets of cardboard-scented matzos, Sanders—a noted Jew—standing in line for a free soft pretzel seems pretty darn disrespectful to his Tribe. Look, not all of us keep Kosher year-round, and even on Passover many of us have been known to cheat a little by day six or seven, but we’re not even halfway through the holiday! We’re barely past asking why this night is different from all other nights. Where’s the self-control, Bernie?
It’s bad enough that National Pretzel Day is during Passover this year—nice planning, snack food lobbyists—but to see the only Jewish candidate for President waiting in line to enjoy that soft, fresh, salty goodness surely has more than just one Jew a tad farklempt.
Rather than sit and stew—golly a pretzel would taste good dipped in stew right now—this disgruntled Jew took to action, asking Sanders about his sacrilious decision. He seemed…amused.
Sanders has a similar relationship with his heritage as many American Jews, in that he self-identifies as a Jew culturally, but not religiously. And yet, isn’t eating matzos on Passover (and not pretzels) more a part of the culture than the religion at this point? Sanders has had a Passover seder, at least according to reports, and back when he was re-elected as mayor of Burlington, Vt. in the mid 1980’s, he celebrated the victory at a local Purim party.
That’s pretty damn Jewish. So, really, Bernie. A pretzel? On Passover? What’s next, a cheesesteak?
In truth, Sanders breaking Passover traditions probably doesn’t insult too many Jews, and the notion that grabbing a pretzel would endear him more to the local voters is certainly fair. Maybe Sanders was a better Jew in the past, but he hasn’t flip-flopped on this topic since joining the Presidential race, sidestepping a question about his faith by telling Jimmy Kimmel in October that, “I am who I am, and what I believe in, and what my spirituality is about, is that we’re all in this together.”
We’re not all in this together today, Bernie. You enjoy that Passover pretzel. Next week, maybe we can get one, together.