CFA: PaRDeS (2017) - JewBus, Jewish Hindus & other Jewish Encounters with Far Eastern Religions

Markus Krah's picture

PaRDeS, the journal of the Vereinigung für Jüdische Studien (Association of Jewish Studies), is published annually both in print and as a free (open-access) online version. The journal aims to document Judaism’s fertile and multifarious cultures as well as their relationships with their non-Jewish environments, in a broad range of scholarly disciplines. In addition, the journal intends to promote Jewish Studies within academic discourses and aims to discuss their historical and social responsibility. The upcoming PaRDeS issue will focus on the reciprocal relationships between Judaism and Far Eastern religions, will be published in cooperation with the Bar Ilan-University, Israel.

In October 1990, eight rabbis and Jewish communal leaders travelled to the Indian city of Dharamsla in order to discuss with the XIV Dalai Lama intersections and points of contact between Buddhism and Judaism. It was their intention to create and promote an inter-religious dialogue. In his bestseller, The Jew in the Lotus (1994), Rodger Kamenetz recorded this historical event and popularized the notion of “Je(w)Bu” (or “BuJews”), which at that point had already existed for several decades: Je(w)Bus have a Jewish background, yet, practise, for the most diverse reasons thinkable, aspects derived from Buddhist spiritualism.

An early example for this is Siegmund Feniger, known under the name Nyanaponika Mahathera, who in 1935 fled from Nazi-era Vienna to Sri Lanka and as a monk, became a leading disseminator of Buddhism. When in the 1950s and 60s Western societies underwent massive change in their perspectives on religion and spirituality, more and more young Jews became interested in Far Eastern religions. According to a survey from the 1970s, approximately one third of all American Buddhists came from Jewish backgrounds. Alongside several spiritual teachers (Thubten Chodron, Zoketsu N. Fischer, Joseph Goldstein) and bestseller authors (Jack Kornfeld, Natalie Goldberg, Sharon Salzberg), numerous individuals from the public sphere (Leonard Cohen, Goldie Hawn, Mandy Patinkin), too, publicly embraced some forms of Far Eastern spiritualism. As Sylvia Boorstein indicated by the subtitle of her book, That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist: On Being a Faithful Jew and a Passionate Buddhist, JewBus see the two parts of their identities as congenial rather than problematic.

The upcoming issue of PaRDeS will focus on Jewish interactions with Asian religions. Alongside unpublished scholarly articles dealing with the encounters and the transfer of knowledge on a historical level, those revolving around present day’s religious and cultural challenges are of particular interest.

We welcome proposals for articles (approx. 12-15 pages) and shorter essays (approx. 2-3 pages) related to the areas listed above in German or English. Please submit abstracts (approx. 250 words) to pardes2017@gmail.com by February 25, 2016 at the latest. The deadline for manuscripts, proofread and adhering to the journal’s guidelines, will be July, 15th 2016 at the latest. PaRDeS will be published in autumn 2017.

Prof. Dr. Nathanael Riemer, Universität Potsdam, Germany
Dr. Rachel Albeck-Gidron, University of Bar-Ilan, Israel
Markus Krah, Ph.D., School of Jewish Theology, Universität Potsdam