When asked about his religious beliefs by an audience member at Sunday’s debate in Flint, Mich., the Vermont Senator was candid about his heritage and faith.
“I’m very proud to be Jewish,” Sanders said. “Being Jewish is so much of what I am.”
He opened up about his father’s relatives, who he said was “wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust,” adding that he learned very early in life the implications of “crazy and radical extremist” politics—an apparent dig at leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that Sanders often avoids direct mention of his Jewish heritage; at previous debates and during speeches, he answers questions about his religious beliefs with general remarks about how spirituality influences his progressivism. When he mentions his father, a Jewish immigrant from Poland, he has often referred to him as simply a “Polish immigrant.”
Sanders’ remarks gained traction among among viewers following the debate on social media; Twitter said it was the third most-talked-about moment on the site.
Clinton was also asked about her faith, and she replied by describing what she prays for, including humility and the wellbeing of people in authority.