I was given a special invite this last weekend to see Thich Nhat Hanh and Jack Kornfield speak at the UCLA Conference on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. I have had a fascination since college on the East and especially in Zen Buddhism with one of my first mentors (via audio and video tape) being Ram Dass. Imagine my surprise when years later after delving into my Jewish background finding out that Ram Dass was none other than Dr. Richard Alpert an ex Harvard Professor and...a Jew! This was the tip of the ice burg and after doing a little more research realized that Bu-Jews (Buddhist Jews) were all over the place and many books including "The Jew and the Lotus" had been written on the subject. As usual I am not going to try and rewrite the history on this subject but instead offer you some name of Bujews they you may or may not have known about. Jack Kornfield for one who made the comment when asked about his Judaism that he was only Jewish on his parents side. I follow Buddhism spiritually but would not hesitate to take up arms if America came under attack or to protect Jews and that is one of my disagreements with the Buddhist belief system and that everything can be solved thru non-violence acts and discussion. I still think it is important to enjoy your life while you are here in human form before moving into another form and if Islamo Fascists are going to stand in my way I wont do a sit-in or set myself on fire expecting a change to happen. Mini rant has ended.
Buddhist Jews a growing U.S. force
UPI, May 2, 2006
San Francisco, CA (USA) -- A new breed of Buddhism is growing in the United States that is being fueled by believers in Judaism, who are known as JuBus, a report said Tuesday.
The United States has an estimated 6 million Jews and 3 million Buddhists. While most U.S. Buddhists are Asian, up to 30 percent of converts are Jewish.The growing JuBu movement is "a fruitful and beautifully creative meeting of two religious streams that came together in the United States," Rabbi Alan Lew told The Los Angeles Times.The rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom in San Francisco operates a meditation program next to his synagogue."We get up from here and walk next door to the synagogue, where instead of reading sutras, we study (the) Torah," Lew said. "Meditation is really catching on in the Jewish community.""Suffering is at the heart of the matter," said "Letters to a Buddhist Jew" author David Gottlieb. "Judaism, at its best, embraces suffering and, at its worst, enshrines it. Buddhism explicitly seeks to end suffering, and doesn't look to the past."
Here is some info I pulled off the net when looking for Bu Jews including the title of this posting.
I found this posted by "Sifudug" on History.Com's message board:
"I just became a certified Shin Buddhist minister, which made me reflect on the Bu Jews of the world. Most Western Buddhist teachers I know are Bu Jews. As a Buddhist of Jewish ancestry, I find this an interesting phenomenon. I think in some ways I'm a typical an example. Buddhism is my main personal daily practice, however because of family connections I still attend Shabbace Dinners and Pesach and other holidays."
Oliver Stone - film director (lapsed Catholic mother; non-observant Jewish father; raised Episcopalian; converted to Buddhism as adult)
Ayya Khema (August 25, 1923 - November 2, 1997), a Buddhist teacher, was born as Ilse Kussel in Berlin, Germany, to Jewish parents.
Khema dodged the Nazis during World War II, but was interned by the Japanese. She eventually moved to the United States. After travelling in Asia she decided to become a Buddhist nun in Sri Lanka in 1979. She was very active in providing opportunities for women to practice Buddhism, founding several centers around the world. In 1987 she co-ordinated the first ever International Conference of Buddhist Nuns.