(Bloomberg) -- Bernie Sanders helped light a menorah at a “Chanukah on Ice” event at an Iowa ice skating rink Sunday night, and condemned a rise in anti-semitism in America and “all over the world.”It’s rare to see the U.S. senator from Vermont, who is a secular Jew, in a religious setting while running for the Democratic presidential nomination.The annual Hanukkah event, organized by Des Moines Rabbi Yossi Jacobson, came less than 24 hours after an intruder stabbed five people at a rabbi’s home in the New York City suburb of Monsey Saturday night.“What we’re seeing right now -- we’re seeing it in America, we’re seeing it all over the world -- is a rise in anti-semitism. We’re seeing a rise in hate crimes,” Sanders said.“We’re seeing somebody run into a kid here in Des Moines because that child was a Latino. We’re seeing people being stabbed yesterday in New York City because they were Jewish. We are seeing people being assaulted because they are Muslim,” he told an audience of about 90 gathered on a frigid Iowa winter night.“And as the rabbi indicated, if there was ever a time in American history where we say no to religious bigotry, this is the time,” he said.Sanders talked about his father immigrating at age 17 from Poland, “fleeing anti-semitism and fleeing violence and fleeing terrible, terrible poverty.”Sanders joked about not burning down the ice skating rink before lighting the menorah candles with a blowtorch provided by the event organizers. He joined in, reading the words, as the rabbi sang a blessing. An icy wind blew his borrowed kippah off his head at one point.As Jacobson and his wife, Chana, who run Maccabee’s Kosher Deli in Des Moines, handed out latkes and doughnuts, the rabbi noted that Sanders rarely talks about Judaism on the campaign trail.That has raised questions about whether he’s uncomfortable with his Jewish identity, Jacobson said.Jacobson said Sanders was reluctant at first to accept the invitation to light the menorah candles, but once he did, he embraced the evening with enthusiasm.Jacobson said he asked Sanders his Hebrew name. Binyamin, Sanders answered.The rabbi said he gave Sanders a blessing, “for his health.”To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at firstname.lastname@example.org, Elizabeth Wasserman, Kasia KlimasinskaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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