The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet's Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India

by Rodger Kamenetz

Book, 1995



Call number

655 KAM


[San Francisco, Calif.] : HarperSanFrancisco, 1995.


While accompanying eight high-spirited Jewish delegates to Dharamsala, India, for a historic Buddhist-Jewish dialogue with the Dalai Lama, poet Rodger Kamenetz comes to understand the convergence of Buddhist and Jewish thought. Along the way he encounters Ram Dass and Richard Gere, and dialogues with leading rabbis and Jewish thinkers, including Zalman Schacter, Yitz and Blue Greenberg, and a host of religious and disaffected Jews and Jewish Buddhists. This amazing journey through Tibetan Buddhism and Judaism leads Kamenetz to a renewed appreciation of his living Jewish roots.

User reviews

LibraryThing member quicksiva
A great example of Real religious dialogue occurred, at Dhararamsala, India. In 1989, the same year he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent efforts, the Dalai Lama turned for the first time to the Jewish people for help. "Tell me your secret," he said, "the secret of Jewish
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spiritual survival in exile."

At the same time, the spiritual leader of most of the world’s Buddhists asked to have the Jewish Kabbalah explained to him.

The first joking response was “chicken soup and Hebrew school.” Although possibly accurate, this was deemed insufficient.

A spectrum of Jewish religious leaders was sent to India to dialog with this “living god.” These leaders were also charged by their home communities with discovering why so many promising Jews were converting to Buddhism. (1950’s-1980’s).

Rodger Kamenetz, a poet and professor of English at Louisiana State University documented this historic meeting of East and West in the excellent work The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet’s Rediscovery of his Jewish identity in Buddhist India
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LibraryThing member JBCrocker
This book taught me about intersections of seemingly different religions and how people can keep open minds.
LibraryThing member berthirsch
Having read this book several years ago I remember as a fascinating look at the cross fertilization of this dialogue. The story of a group of observant jews travelling as guests to meet with the Dali Lama in his retreat in India.

The purpose of the meeting: the Dali Lama's wish to gain a deeper
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understanding of how the Jewish people of the Diaspora were ablke to flourish and sustain their sense of coimmunity and joint identity while in exile through the centuries.

As a by-product the author explores his own personal issues as a jew with an appreciation for eastern religious thought.
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LibraryThing member KamGeb
The story in the book is very interesting. However, this book is a very dense book with a lot of technical Jewish vocabulary that non-Jews might not have heard before. It also goes into a lot of mystical Jewish ideology that even most Jews have never heard of before. Every so often there would be
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an amazing fact that I found truly interesting: such as the fact that Ben Gurion had studied Buddhism. I found it interesting but I found I couldn't recommend it to others because it was such a hard read.
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LibraryThing member jshttnbm
About as annoying and interesting as it sounds.
LibraryThing member Eye_Gee
LOVING THIS! I picked it up at a yard sale. How is it possible that I'd never heard of it before?

Original publication date



0060645741 / 9780060645748

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