45 rabbis sign petition backing Bernie Sanders’ economic agenda

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Some 45 rabbis from all religious streams have signed a petition backing the economic policies of U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The petition posted March 3 by “Jews for Bernie,” a group backing the candidate, does not itself endorse the bid of Sanders, an Independent senator from Vermont, to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. It remains open for signatures.

It does embrace his economic outlook however, with its emphasis on redressing economic inequality.

“We are compelled to lend our voices in support of the economic agenda expressed by Senator Bernie Sanders, which seeks to elevate those living in dire poverty, to restore America’s middle class, and to abate the enrichment of America’s wealthiest at the expense of America’s neediest,” the petition says.

The petition quotes Jewish texts, including the bible, the Talmud and the Shulchan Aruch to make the case “not to subvert the rights of the poor and the worker, but to attend to their needs.”

“We declare support for the economic reforms expressed by Senator Sanders in the hope that all candidates for public office will embrace the goal of an economically just society,” it says.

Most of the signatories are U.S.-based, although three live in Israel; all are U.S. citizens. They represent all streams, including Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal.

Among them are Aryeh Cohen, a professor of rabbinic literature at the American Jewish University in Southern California, Rabbi Yaakov Komisar, who teaches at the Ezra Academy, an Orthodox middle school in Forest Hills, New York; Rabbi Alana Suskin, the director of strategic communications at Americans for Peace Now, and Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, the director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Sanders is the first Jewish candidate to have won a presidential primary, last month in New Hampshire. He has won seven nominating contests so far, four fewer than the Democatic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state.

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