Statement of Solidarity Against Anti-Semitism

The Teachers and Board of Directors of Zen Center of Los Angeles Buddha Essence Temple acknowledge and bear witness to the verbal and physical attacks taking place against Jews, individually and as communities, here in Southern California, in the United States, and globally.  We categorically stand against anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic hatred and all acts that arise from it.  We stand in solidarity with our Jewish brethren against such attacks and we call on all peoples to uproot and dismantle systemic and individual anti-Semitism and to work for the liberation of all people everywhere.

The Zen Center of Los Angeles has had a long and enriching connection with the Jewish community.  Maezumi Roshi’s first Dharma successor was Bernie Tetsugen Glassman, a Brooklyn-born Jew, and various other successors and senior students were – and, to this day, are – also Jewish.  Roshi Bernie, in turn, gave transmission to Rabbi Don Ani Shalom Singer, a Reform rabbi, and Zen Center hosted the High Holy Days services for his congregation, Shir Hadash, for eight years.  Roshi Bernie was also the co-founder of the Zen Peacemakers and the force behind its annual Bearing Witness retreat at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland.

Many Sangha members who identify as Jewish are experiencing tremendous suffering and fear from the increasing attacks against Jews locally, nationally, and internationally.  We bear witness to this suffering and say, clearly:  We see you, we acknowledge your pain, and we stand with you – we are you.

While verbal and physical violence against Jews has increased significantly in recent weeks, anti-Semitism is ancient – Jews have been a convenient “other” to blame for long centuries.  All such acts of violence are wrong.  They are not aligned with the Zen Bodhisattva precepts, which call us to affirm life.  All forms of racial, ethnic, religious or other group-based hatred are wholly contrary to the teachings of the Buddha.

In our current world, there is no lack of “others” to dehumanize and stigmatize.  We equally stand against verbal and physical attacks against Muslims and Palestinians arising from such group-based hatred. We disavow such “othering” in each and every circumstance.

We reiterate Zen Center’s vision:  “Let us create an enlightened world free of suffering, in which all beings live in harmony, everyone has enough, deep wisdom is realized, and compassion flows unhindered.”  May we work tirelessly together to make it so.