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     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.
       —Rodger Kamenetz


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 (Twitch and 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

“Beautiful and moving…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.”
– Time Out  

“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…a work that is incredibly inspirational without resorting to sentimentality.”
– Boston Globe  

“The film is rich with interesting subplots and asides…as a tale of one man's religious odyssey, it is complete unto itself.”
– Chicago Tribune  

“A compelling film.…Kamenetz comes off as a cross between Woody Allen and Alan Watts.”
– 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…but 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.”
– The Forward  


Click to hear a 90 second mp3 sample of the soundtrack.
Soundtrack may be ordered from Blind Dog Films; email for details



The Jew in the Lotus
Producer/Director: Laurel Chiten
Editor: William A. Anderson · Co-Producer: Lucia Small
Director of Photography: Peter Wiehl · Composer: Paul Chiten

Blind Dog Films


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