Jubu

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 6, 2009
Follow The JC on Twitter

Jubu is a neologism coined within the last 10 years. Its short for Jewish Buddhist. The need for a new word reflects the explosion of interest in Buddhism among Jews.At one end of the spectrum, a Jubu may be a Buddhist guru who grew up Jewish and left the community. (This is true of a staggeringly high percentage of American Buddhist leaders; well over half by most counts.) One such Jubu journey is recounted by Sylvia Boorstein in her autobiographical memoir, Thats funny, you dont look Buddhist.

At the other extreme, a Jubu may be a practising Jew who eclectically incorporates some Buddhist meditation exercises into his or her spiritual practice, sometimes using them to rediscover the spiritual depth in Jewish prayer.

The Jubu phenomenon clearly presents a challenge to mainstream Jewish communities over their failure to practise and teach a Judaism that is spiritually meaningful or relevant. Too many feel that they have to look outside Judaism to quench their thirst for genuine spirituality. Rabbi Akiva Tatz argues powerfully in his book, Letters to a Jewish Buddhist, that the insight, experience and depth that Jubus seek in the East can all be found intraditional Jewish sources, and in religiously alive Jewish communities today.

While some Jubus are essentially lost to Judaism, for others the Buddhist journey can catalyse an awakening to their Jewish birthright.

They return to Judaism and see with fresh eyes that religious texts and practices which had seemed dead to them are packed with spiritual depth and possibilities.

    Last updated: 12:31pm, March 6 2009