Here are all the Jewish members of Congress, plus maybe one more who isn’t

Sen. Michael Bennet does not count himself among the 30 Jewish members of the 115th Congress [Jeffrey Beall]
Sen. Michael Bennet does not count himself among the 30 Jewish members of the 115th Congress [Jeffrey Beall]
Yesterday, Aleksandra Sandstrom and the Pew Research Center released a study on the religious composition of the 115th Congress as it was being sworn in. In all, Sandstrom found that there will be 30 members of Congress who identify as Jewish, up from 28 in the previous congress but still way down from 2009-2010, when there were 45 Jewish members in total. Certainly some of those loses have to do with both chambers turning Republican since then, as Jewish politicians are overwhelmingly Democrats. (In fact, only two of the current 30 are Republicans.)

Jewish representation in Congress is much greater than actual population numbers, making up  5.6 percent of Congress, which is almost three times the percentage of Jews in the U.S. population. That 5.6 figure, however, likely underestimates legislative influence as there are many Jews in positions of leadership in Congress, including the new Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer.

One particular member of interest for the study might be Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), who was just elected to his second term. He is not included as Jewish, though he is ethnically Jewish and his maternal grandparents survived the Warsaw Ghetto.  According to The New York Jewish Week, Bennet “will only say he believes in God” without specifying further.

In other words, Bennet’s outlook sounds similar to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is also ethnically Jewish but reluctant to speak about it. In fact, Bennet maybe be more religious since Sanders won’t go so far as to say that he believes in God. When asked by Jimmy Kimmel in 2015, Sanders said “What my spirituality is about is that we’re all in this together and it’s not a good thing to believe that as human beings we can turn our backs on the suffering of other people,” he responded. “This is not Judaism. This is what Pope Francis is talking about, that we cannot worship just billionaires and the making of more money.”

Yet there is a simple reason that Sanders is Jewish, and Bennet is not, according to CQ Roll Call, whose data Sandstrom, used. It’s all about self-reporting. Sanders’s office refers to him as Jewish, whereas Bennet’s only said “don’t know/refused.”

Jewish Members of 115th Congress according to Pew/CQ:

Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Brian Schatz (D-HI)

Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)

House of Representatives
David Cicilline (D-RI)
Steve Cohen (J-TN)
Susan A. Davis (D-CA)
Ted Deutch (D-FL)
Eliot L. Engel (D-NY)

Lois Frankel (D-FL)
Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ)
David Kustoff (R-TN)
Sander Levin (D-MI)
Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)

Nita M. Lowey (D-NY)
Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
Jared Polis (D-CO)
Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
Jacky Rosen (D-NV)

Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Brad Schneider (D-IL)
Adam B. Schiff (D-CA)
Brad Sherman (D-CA)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)

John Yarmuth (D-KY)
Lee Zeldin (R-NY)

01/04/2017 3:58 PM by David Kinzer

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