A revealing look at the Jewish American encounter with Buddhism
Today, many Jewish Americans are embracing a dual religious
identity, practicing Buddhism while also staying connected to their
Jewish roots. This book tells the story of Judaism's encounter with
Buddhism in the United States, showing how it has given rise to new
contemplative forms within American Judaism-and shaped the way
Americans understand and practice Buddhism. Taking readers from the
nineteenth century to today, Emily Sigalow traces the history of
these two traditions in America and explains how they came
together. She argues that the distinctive social position of
American Jews led them to their unique engagement with Buddhism,
and describes how people incorporate aspects of both into their
everyday lives. Drawing on a wealth of original in-depth interviews
conducted across the nation, Sigalow explores how Jewish American
Buddhists experience their dual religious identities. She reveals
how Jewish Buddhists confound prevailing expectations of minority
religions in America. Rather than simply adapting to the majority
religion, Jews and Buddhists have borrowed and integrated elements
from each other, and in doing so they have left an enduring mark on
the American consciousness. American JewBu highlights the leading
role that American Jews have played in the popularization of
meditation and mindfulness in the United States, and the profound
impact that these two venerable traditions have had on one another.
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