Bernie Sanders has a large, loving family. He and his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, have four children and seven grandchildren. Bernie has a brother who is a politician in the UK. Sadly, both of Bernie’s parents died at a young age. His family was greatly supportive of his second run for the Democratic ticket in the 2020 Presidential Race, and were by his side every step of the way, including when he won the New Hampshire primary. Here is what you need to know about Bernie’s family.
1. Bernie & Jane Sanders Have Four Children & Seven Grandchildren
Bernie Sanders wasn’t just a presidential contender with a huge grassroots following. He’s also a loving husband, father, and doting grandpa. Together Sanders and his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, have four children and seven grandchildren. Sanders has one son, Levi Sanders, with former girlfriend Susan Mott. Jane has three children from a previous marriage to David Driscoll. He and Jane both consider the others’ children to be their own.
Bernie and Jane Sanders met in 1981 and have been married for more than 27 years.
2. His Son Levi Sanders Recently Ran for Political Office
Levi Sanders, the son of Sen. Bernie Sanders, recently ran for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st District but did not win. Levi played a big role in his father’s campaign for President in 2016, serving as the Senior Political Strategist. Levi, 48, was born to Bernie and Bernie’s then-girlfriend Susan Mott. Levi has been part of Bernie’s campaign world since he was two-years-old and sitting on Bernie’s lap when his dad first raised his hand to run for office, The New York Times reported.
Levi is a big supporter of his dad, saying: “He is someone who gives hope that things can change. I could go on and on.” Levi is a political and legal analyst. He was the senior policy strategist for his dad’s presidential campaign, helping his dad every step of the way.
When asked once about his politics versus his dad’s, he told Vice: “The basic difference is that I’m a vegetarian and he’s not.”
Levi was married to Raine Riggs, a neuropsychologist whose studies include researching psychiatric syndromes connected to cancer diagnoses. They have adopted three children from China and live in New Hampshire.
Sadly, Raine Riggs died in October 2019 just days after being diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer. Riggs died on the same day that Bernie Sanders was released from the hospital after having a heart attack. It was a heartbreaking and unexpected death.
Riggs’ obituary says, “this world lost one of its most beautiful people…. our beloved mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece and cousin… Dr. Rainè Riggs.”
Riggs’ last words to her children were that she was sorry she got sick, People shared.
3. Bernie’s Brother, Larry Sanders, Is a Politician in the UK
Larry Sanders, Bernie’s brother, is a politician in the UK. Larry joined the Green Party in 2001 after leaving the Labour Party. In 2016 he was appointed as the party’s health spokesman. His popularity has grown ever since.
Larry Sanders has lived in Britain since 1969, when he moved there with his late wife and became a university lecturer on health and social care. Today, he lives with his partner, Jane, and they have four grandchildren.
When Bernie began campaigning and rising in popularity in the United States, Larry said that it made him a sudden celebrity over in the UK, AP reported: “I was at a meeting the other day and when I stood up to ask a question, half the people in the audience started clapping. I’ve been going to meetings for 40 years and no one’s ever applauded before.”
Larry is six years older than his younger brother Bernie (who will always be “Bernard” to him.) They grew up under the shadow of the Holocaust, AP reported, because they had lost relatives from it and, to them, that made politics very, very serious.
Larry has a long history in politics. In the early 1960s he was president of the Lower East Side Reform Democrats, The Daily Beast reported.
Growing up, Larry helped foster Bernie’s interest in politics. When Larry was studying politics at Brooklyn College and was active in Young Democrats, he often discussed political ideals with Bernie, AP reported.
4. Both of Bernie’s Parents Died Young
In a speech for a campaign, Bernie shared that his father, Eli Sanders, was a courageous man who journeyed to the United States from Poland without knowing any English. He said: “I did not have a mom and dad who gave me millions of dollars to build luxury skyscrapers and casinos and country clubs. But I had something more valuable: I had the role model of a father who had unbelievable courage in journeying across an ocean, with no money in his pocket and not knowing a word of English.”
His father came to the United States in the early 1920s when he was just 17 and didn’t have any money. He worked as a paint salesman to support his family, Tablet shared.
Dorothy Glassberg Sanders, Bernie’s mother, was the daughter of immigrants. Her Jewish parents — Benjamin Glassberg and Bessie Glassberg — were from Poland and Russia. Dorothy was born in New York. Dorothy had six siblings.
Sadly, both of Bernie Sanders’ parents died young. His mother died just after he graduated from high school. They lived in a rent-controlled apartment, but she always dreamed of owning a private home. Sadly, she died before that dream could come true. His mom had rheumatic fever as a child, and she became ill when Bernie was in high school. She died shortly after he graduated from high school when she was only 46. Her death followed a second failed heart surgery, according to FeeltheBern.org.
Then his dad died just a few years later on August 4, 1962, when he was only 57.
5. Bernie’s Father’s Family Was Killed by Nazis in Concentration Camps
Bernie Sanders credits his dad’s courage with keeping their family line alive at all. His dad had the courage to leave for the United States. Tragically, the rest of his dad’s family was killed by the Nazis.
Bernie said in a speech at one of his rallies; “He came to escape the crushing poverty that existed in his community, and to escape widespread anti-Semitism. Needless to say I would not be with you today if he had not made that trip from Poland because virtually his entire family there was wiped out by the Nazis.”
He went on to say:
My father’s family was wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust. I know about what crazy and radical, and extremist politics mean. I learned that lesson as a tiny, tiny child when my mother would take me shopping, and we would see people working in stores who had numbers on their arms because they were in Hitler’s concentration camp.”
Bernie once told PBS about the tragedy: “It just makes us realize how hard we have got to work to not descend into this type of barbarity, and to create a world where people love each other, and to do so many wonderful things together. And that’s what this reinforces with me.”