Studies on the practice of Buddhism in the West clearly show that, ever since the 1960s, Buddhism has won a significant following from individuals of Jewish background. This article explores the links between Jewish adoption of Buddhism (as a form of spiritual practice, philosophy, therapy or overarching religion) and the pains of Jewish history, and proposes that conversion may be an attempt to disassociate one's self not only from her or his own Jewishness, but from the entire Abrahamic religious model. At the same time, the trend is confronted by its countertrend, by which the disassociation from Judaism for the sake of engagement with Buddhism often seems to be temporary, partial, or both. It is argued that in such instances, engagement with Buddhism may serve post-Holocaust needs for spiritual convalescence while at the same time instilling a pluralistic spirit that holds vicarious ramifications for Jewish attitudes towards and relations with other faiths, Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic alike.
Skip Nav Destination
Yonatan N. Gez; The Phenomenon of Jewish Buddhists in Light of the History of Jewish Suffering. Nova Religio 1 August 2011; 15 (1): 44–68. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2011.15.1.44
Download citation file: