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They're Jews by birth who practice Buddhism as adults.

Since the late 1960s, a many Americans have looked to the East for spiritual traditions. In this quest, a large number of Jews have found a connection with Buddhist philosophy. For many, Buddhism makes spirituality more tangible through meditation and yet does not conflict with Jewish traditions. These individuals are often called JUBUs – Jews by birth who turned to Buddhist practices in search of a spiritual element they feel is lacking in American Judaism. It's been estimated that about 30 percent of American Buddhists are Jewish by birth.

Specifically, many of these JUBUS say Buddhism helps them to better cope with the Jewish legacy of suffering. The Jewish history of persecution, which started in Biblical times, has continued into this century with anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Also, it’s been said that Judaism in the 20th Century lacked much spirituality because it was primarily focused on healing from the atrocities of World War II. Buddhism is attractive to some Jews because it is a simple, accessible philosophy of suffering that does not require them to abandon Judaism.

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to a number of prominent Buddhist teachers who are also Jews. The Rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom, Alan Lew, spent years studying Buddhism before becoming a rabbi. Norman Fisher, the co-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, is Jewish as is the co-founder of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Sylvia Boorstein.

Rabbi Lew in particular has expounded on the Buddhist-Jewish dynamic. For years he's lead meditation at his synagogue. And more recently, Lew is about to open a Jewish meditation center where he teaches Jews how to meditate using a Buddhist style practice. The rabbi is also the author of "One God Clapping," a book that chronicles his experiences in both religions.

Rabbi Lew's Jewish meditation center is now open in San Francisco. He promoted the center while speaking at the Bay Area premiere of the film, "Jews and Buddhism," a new work by filmmaker Bill Chayes. The film was narrated by Sharon Stone and played at 40 film festivals around the world. It was called "One of the outstanding Documentaries of 1999," by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science.


Rabbi Alan Lew: Rabbi
Congregation Beth Sholom
San Francisco, CA
Work 415-221-8736
Home 415-387-3306

Bill Chayes: Independent Filmmaker
360 Grant Street
Petaluma CA 94952 Home 707-782-9131
Work 510-549-6952

Rabbi Lew's official Web site detailing Jewish meditation.

The San Francisco Zen Center Web site provides information on the Center's activities.

The Spirit Rock Meditation Center Web site offers information on the Center and its programs.

The San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs has information on Rabbi Lew and the evolution of Jewish meditation.

The Jewish Bulletin featured an article about Chochmant HaLev, an independent Jewish learning center that offers Jewish meditation.

The Web site for the film "Jews and Buddhism" contains information about the Sharon Stone-narrated film.

The Independent Television Service's Web site discusses the relationship between Jewish exiles and Buddhist exiles.

Award-winning filmmaker Laurel Chiten's film, "The Jew in the Lotus," is about one Jew's journey to India and his encounters with Buddhism.

ACFnewsource provides links to sites maintained by other organizations for informational purposes only. ACFnewsource has no responsibility for the accuracy of the content of any Web site to which a link is provided. The groups included on the list do not necessarily reflect the views of ACFnewsource.

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