I'd come to Dharamsala
as a skeptic.
A cultural Jew, a Jew by birth.
But my religion? Nervous was my religion...
They say if you lie down in a deep well
even in daylight,
you can see the stars.
I was in a deep well, looking up,
and I saw something absolutely brilliant.
In 1990, eight Jewish delegates
traveled to Dharamsala, India, to meet with the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet
and share the secret of Jewish spiritual survival in exile.
When writer Rodger
Kamenetz was invited to go along to chronicle the event, unexpectedly,
his whole life changed. Kamenetz begins an intense personal journey
that leads him back to his Jewish roots. As he discovers, sometimes
you have to go far away to find your way home.
Inspired by Kamenetz's best selling book, The Jew in the Lotus, award winning filmmaker Laurel Chiten's
Shout) documentary fills in what the book left out. Focusing
on the author's particular odyssey of suffering and the role of spirituality
as a universal theme, this film touches audiences on deep emotional
levels. It does not put itself forth as a definitive look at Judaism
or Buddhism but is a complete portrait of a man who is still in the
process of formation.
The Jew in the Lotus is a 60 minute,
16mm documentary film produced in cooperation with The Center for Independent
Documentary in association with the Independent Television
Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting. Additional funding from Nathan Cummings Foundation and
Kapor Family Fund. An excerpt of The Jew in the Lotus is available
for online viewing at the ITVS website.
The Jew in the Lotus has
screened around the world and was broadcast nationwide on the PBS program Independent Lens. It has been honored with Most Outstanding Personal
Vision from the New England Film and Video festival. The Jew in the
Lotus is distributed by New Day Films.
About Rodger Kamenetz
In 1994 HarperCollins published The
Jew in the Lotus: A Poet's Rediscovery of Jewish Identity
in Buddhist India. Its popularity ranks it among
the important Jewish books of the 1990's, in its fourteenth
printing in hardcover and paperback, and it is now widely
used in university and college courses and Jewish study
groups. Kamenetz's most recent book, Stalking Elijah:
Adventures with Today's Jewish Mystical Masters, was
awarded the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought.
Today internationally known
for his work on Jewish-Buddhist dialogue, Kamenetz lectures
frequently on contemporary religion. His articles and
essays on religion have appeared in The New York
Times Magazine, Moment, and Reform Judiasm.
In 1996, he organized a national campaign of Passover
Seders for Tibet, in cooperation with the International
Campaign for Tibet, and helped organize a special Seder
for Tibet in Washington D.C. attended by the Dalai Lama.
Kamenetz is a professor of English at Lousiana State University,
where he teaches in the graduate creative writing program
and directs the Jewish studies minor.
Visit Rodger Kamenetz' website.
Outstanding Personal Vision Award
New England Film Festival
Chiten has told Kamenetz's story with the utmost sensitivity,
grace, humor and considerable style.
Los Angeles Times
Lotus is one of the rare films that manages not only to entertain viewers,
but to awaken in them just this sort of spiritual self-examination.
The film is
truly a remarkable piece and all those who have witnessed the grace
and power of its message are moved from sleeping complacency into
spiritual and social action.
Volunteer from the
Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota
A knockout documentary
work that is incredibly inspirational without resorting to sentimentality.
The film is
rich with interesting subplots and asides
as a tale of one man's
religious odyssey, it is complete unto itself.
Kamenetz comes off as a cross between Woody Allen and Alan
San Francisco Examiner
The Jew in the
Lotus probes the many parallels between the plight of the Tibetan
people and the Jewish Diaspora...The film serves as an engaging travelogue
at the film's core is an inward journey, as Kamenetz revisits his own
sense of failure, worthlessness and confusion
For Kamenetz, the
trip to Dharamsala spurred a spiritual reawakening, and affirmation
of a Jewish faith he'd never deeply grappled with.