(JTA) — Activist and Harvard professor Cornel West used the “chesed,” Hebrew for kindness, during a Bernie Sanders campaign event in New Hampshire.
“We got a deep Jewish brother named Bernie Sanders who is bringing us together,” West told the crowd Monday, a day before the state’s primary, which was won by Sanders.
He called President Donald Trump the “neo-fascist gangster in the White House.”
West, the son of a Baptist minister, called chesed — which he defined as “steadfast love” — “part of the genius of the Hebrew scripture.”
He said that “the spreading of chesed, the spreading of that steadfast love, to the orphan, the widow, the fatherless, the motherless, the oppressed, the occupied, the dominated, it’s rooted in the best of America, but it looks to the world and it says a precious baby in Ethiopia, in Guatemala, it could be in Tel Aviv or Gaza, it could be in Argentina, it could be in New Hampshire, they all have the same value, they all have the same significance.”
West’s use of the term apparently goes back awhile.
“When West talks about love, he often invokes the Hebrew word chesed, which in the Jewish tradition means ‘loving-kindness,’” according to a 2012 profile in New York magazine.
Former presidential candidate Cory Booker used Hebrew on the campaign trail, including during a March 2019 CNN Town Hall appearance.