OJM Panel Discussion and Film: Meditations on the Jewish Buddhist— Culture, Religion and Practice

Thursday, October 24, 7:00pm | Please Pay at the Door | Talk

A JewBu refers to someone with a Jewish background who practices some form of Buddhism. The first JewBu declared himself in the late 19th century and current estimates suggest that 30 percent of all Western Buddhists are of Jewish heritage.

Two scholars, Martin Zwick from Portland State University and Steve Wasserstrom from Reed College will explore the rich legacy found at the intersection of Judaism and Buddhism.

 Audience members will also watch Bill Chaye’s documentary on the topic, Jews and Buddhism: Belief Amended, Faith Revealed.  This film examines the dramatic surge of interest among American Jews in the spiritual teachings of Buddhism. Many Jewish Buddhists are among the leading expositors and scholars of Buddhism in America. In practice, traditional Jewish ritual and liturgy are being modified in synagogues and among individuals seeking to incorporate the teachings of Buddhism into their spiritual lives. 

Jews and Buddhism: Belief Amended, Faith Revealed is the first film to interrogate in depth the reasons for this phenomenon, explore it in the context of 20th century Jewish-American life, and consider its impact on contemporary Jewish thought and practice. This documentary, named “…one of the outstanding documentaries of 1999.” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is narrated by Sharon Stone, and includes rare footage of the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, as well as David Ben Gurion, Alan Ginsberg, Sylvia Boorstein, Rabbi Alan Lew, and many others.

This panel discussion is hosted in conjunction with Meditations on Equilibrium: Works in Glass and Paper by Alex Hirsch on exhibit at the Oregon Jewish Museum in the Menashe Gallery from October 9, 2013 to January 5, 2014.