In my Modern Jews vs Israelites post I mentioned the ability to retain Jewish identity in exile as the hallmark of the Jewish people from ancient times on forward.
Actually there was a documentary and book written on this very topic, called “The Jew in the Lotus.” This is the true story about the time the Dalai Lama called upon Jewish leaders to teach him how they kept Judaism and the culture of the Jewish peoplehood together, alive and relevant throughout thousands of years of exile.
The Dalai Lama is the leader of Tibetan Buddhism living in exile in India. He was forced to flee his native China in 1959 under threat of death or torture and imprisonment by the Chinese government.
Driven from Tibet by invading Chinese troops bent on obliterating Buddhism, the Dalai Lama sought to know the secret of the spiritual survival of Jews over millennia in the Diaspora.
In 1990, a group of rabbis and the author, (invited to document this historic meeting), traveled to Dharamsala, in northern India, to meet with the Dalai Lama in response to his call.
The meeting had a great impact on the author. Reb Zalman became his mentor and his book put the term “Jubu” (Jewish Buddhist) on the map.
The Jew in the Lotus is a 1994 book by Rodger Kamenetz about a historic dialogue between rabbis and the Dalai Lama, the first recorded major dialogue between experts in Judaism and Buddhism. The book became an international best-seller.
Writing in the New York Times, Verlyn Klinkenborg cited its broader relevance as a book “about the survival of esoteric traditions in a world bent on destroying them.”
The book was primarily potent in capturing an ongoing engagement in the US between Jews and Buddhist teachings. Kamenetz popularized the term JUBU or Jewish Buddhist, interviewing poet Allen Ginsberg, vipassana teacher Joseph Goldstein, Ram Dass and other American Jews involved with bringing Eastern traditions to the West.
The book also made prominent a Jewish mystical response to Eastern spirituality in the Jewish Renewal movement, led by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, and Jewish meditation as taught by Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man.
In 2007 the paperback was reissued with an afterword that updated readers on Jewish-Buddhist dialogues.Wikipedia
An estimated 30% of US Buddhists are Jewish from birth. Jubus do not consider Zen Buddhism to be in conflict with Jewish theology. Compatibility is based on the fact that Zen Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism do not have a Creator GD, Messiah figure or deities in the Western sense of the term.
There are divinities, but they are not akin to Jewish, Christian or Muslim “God’ concepts. For greater clarity, I recommend, Is Buddhism Non-Theistic?
The Buddha did not consider himself to be a god, nor did he worship any gods. Buddha was an enlightened human being. More importantly, Buddhism doesn’t require anyone to reject or disavow their religious beliefs.
The Buddhist path embraces everyone, regardless of any belief in God — or not. Atheists Buddhists, Christians, shamans, pagans, agnostics, or “undecideds” can all equally practice the Buddha’s teachings. Whether your concept of God is an all-powerful, all-knowing “capital G” God, or a less defined concept of universal consciousness, or a nature deity, or the more practical “meditational deity” — Buddhism welcomes all of these equally.
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (Reb Zalman), founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, embraced Jews practicing Eastern traditions that do not proselytize practitioners.
Under Reb Zalman’s leadership, the Jewish Renewal movement incorporates Eastern practices such as Zen meditation into prayers.
“Rabbi’s death brings to life his message of renewal” is an excellent article about Reb Zalman (Z’L) and his meeting with the Dalai Lama, who he saw as a kindred spirit.