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Dalai Lama wants to learn from Jews how they survived in Diaspora

October 13, 2009

By Chime Tenzing
October 12, 2009

Dharamsala -- His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited
the Israel Synagogue in Washington yesterday and
met with the congregation's worshippers. The
Tibetan leader shared amusing stories of Israeli
tourists who flood into India, where he has been
living in exile since he fled Tibet in 1959.

The congregants were just in the middle of doing
Kiddush -- the ceremonial benediction over wine
in honor of the holiday - when the Dalai Lama entered the sukkah.

He told the crowd he has "a lot to learn from the
Jews" who were in exile for generations. He said
he would like to learn how the Jews survived so
long in exile as an example for his own Tibetan
people, who have been in exile for 50 years.

The Dalai Lama amusedly told the worshippers that
the largest group of tourists who visit his exile
residence in Dharamsala are Israelis.

The relationship between the Tibetan spiritual
leader and the congregants at the largest
Conservative synagogue in the American capital
started a few months ago when Rabbi Gil Steinlauf
officiated the wedding of Tibet supporter and
friend of the Dalai Lama, Leslie Friedel.

Policy strategist Steve Rabinowitz, the Dalai
Lama's press advisor in Washington and an Adas
Israel congregant, helped the Tibetans book a
hall at the synagogue for the Tibetan leader to
address 400 Tibetan exiles living in Washington area.

Rabinowitz said that the date requested turned
out to be the holiday of Shemini Atzeret, the end
of the Sukkot holiday. Arrangements were made for
the Tibetans to enter through a separate entrance
so as not to disturb the congregants who came to worship for the holiday.
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