Jews and Non-Jews: Interfaith Relations

Print this page Print this page

There are other faith groups in which Jews are finding connections on a spiritual level. Many Jews see Buddhism as a place to find spiritual resonance in today's world. Roger Kamenetz's popular book The Jew in the Lotus chronicles his journey--along with a group of Jewish educators and clergy--to dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Spiritual teacher Sylvia Boorstein, author of Funny, You Don't Look Buddhist, teaches workshops based on her personal experience of using her Buddhist practice to enhance her connections as a Jew. While some Jewish religious leaders feel both concerned and betrayed by the rise of  these so-called "Ju-Bus," others embrace the commonality between Jewish and Buddhist spiritual expression and appreciate the interest in meditation and contemplation--an often-neglected part of Jewish tradition--that has returned as a result.

Many interfaith dialogues raise serious theological concerns. Leaders of America's burgeoning evangelical Christian community are great supporters of the State of Israel--and many Jewish leaders welcome their support at a time when it often feels that public opinion weighs unfairly against Israel. However, many Jews are uncomfortable with the evangelical belief that Jews returning to Israel foreshadows the Messiah's second coming--and the Jews' conversion to Christianity. Dialogue with the Christian right--especially those who support Israel--causes disagreement and dissent among Jewish leaders today.

jewish world today quizDespite the emphasis on dialogue, however, anti-Semitism, of course, persists among people of many religions. In some Middle Eastern countries, newspapers are filled with anti-Jewish cartoons and articles; in France, violence against Jews has increased dramatically since the beginning of the Second Intifada in Israel in 2000; Israeli academics have been barred from European conferences because of their status as veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces; and in North America, Jewish and pro-Israel groups have faced hostility for publicizing their views on college campuses.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.