Warning issued against new Buddhist center in Israel

The anti-missionary organization Yad L’Achim has issued a warning against a new Buddhist center which is set to open in Israel’s Arava region.

According to the warning, an agreement was recently signed by the Central Arava Regional Council and a non-profit organization by the name ‘Wisdom and Intelligence’ which allocates hundreds of acres in the Arava for the establishment of a ‘spiritual university’ based on and operating in accordance with the international principles of Buddhism.

Yad L’Achim says it has been approached by concerned local residents who asked the organization to take action to prevent the center from opening. The organization subsequently looked into ‘Wisdom and Intelligence’ and found that its members are Buddhists.

According to Yad L’Achim, the project is headed by Lama Dvora Tzvieli, an Israeli living in the United States where she was first exposed to Buddhism (Lama is the title given to a teacher or spiritual guide in Buddhism). A subsequent investigation by the organization found that during the contacts between ‘Wisdom and Intelligence’ and the Interior Ministry in order to obtain the necessary permits, not a word was spoken about Buddhism and all the paperwork on the project simply mentioned the words ‘spiritual university’ with no further details. This is despite the fact that all the material distributed by the organization, including information on its Hebrew website, suggests that the center will be devoted to the study of Tibetan Buddhism.

An important part of Buddhism is devotion to the Buddha, and this includes bowing to images of the Buddha as well as to religious superiors, something which is literally idol worship, clearly prohibited in the Ten Commandments.

In an attempt to stop the Buddhist center, Yad L’Achim Chairman Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifshitz has contacted in a letter Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Ezra Rabins, head of the Central Arava Regional Council.

In his letter Rabbi Lifshitz wrote: “Buddhism is idolatry in every sense of the word and there is no doubt that every step possible must be taken to stop the construction of this idolatry center.”

[via Israel National News]
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10 Comments. Leave new

  • Wayne Putterill
    January 13, 2011 1:27 pm

    Devotion to the Buddha is NOT an important part of Buddhism, the Buddha was quite clear and explicit during his life that worshiping him was wrong and should not be done – whether in person or through idols. I recognise that many buddhists do this regardless, and that’s fine if they wish to, but it is wrong to suggest that it is important.

  • meditating wildmindfan
    January 14, 2011 2:49 pm

    The source of suffering is ignorance. Sometimes someone can deliberately be ignorant (i.e. make a false statement) to “defend” their fear of the alien. Even that is ignorance again.
    Having started daily meditations a few weeks ago, I much less feel the need to analyse human behaviour or look for reasons. Thanks to bodhipaksa’s “Still the mind” CD set, I am actually much less upset about this news than I would have been just a few weeks ago.

    Thanks bodhipaksa!

  • My teacher taught us that we are to practice devotion to the Teachings (Dharma), not to the teacher.

    Buddhists are not worshipping statues, I believe. But having a statue helps us to keep Buddha in the mind, and more importantly his teachings.

  • I don’t know enough about Tibetan Buddhism to defend it, but I have been practicing Zen Buddhism for a few years. Zen Buddhism is not a devotional path. It is a meditation practice. One in which understanding and clarity arise when the fog that most people are in dissipates. Like the other person stated Buddha did not want us to worship him, and he never claimed to be a prophet or god of any sort. He just discovered a method to live a fully human life, and that anyone can do it. But from an outsiders perspective statues are present, and there are people bowing to the statues, so I understand. If you are not devoting yourself to a god of any sort, then what are you bowing to, a chunk of wood? Well, a person usually bows to something they hold dear or respect. If you respect the person that stands before you you would shake his or her hand. So when a buddhist shows respect for all other people that are not in a hand shakes distance, and wants everyone in the world to find their way, you would bow to a statue that is a representation of our human nature.

  • I think we should be worried more about the examples we set and the way we disregard one another.Let people identify with what they will.I see no Buddhist with a machine gun,no Buddhist with a wife to support him so he can spend his days”learning”, no woman Buddhist who allows herself to be dictated to and taken for granted.Who does a Buddhist harm? Not you , Not me.

  • Yad Le Achim is an orthodox Jewish group against non-jewish missionarism.

    They also try to “rescue” jewish women that have married arab men.

  • Jewish by birth
    March 31, 2012 2:45 pm

    I was born Jewish and my soul tells me that something is very wrong with Judaism today. My opinion is that Judaism in Israel is bankrupt (unlike its various forms outside of Israel). The most important thing in every spiritual path is to serve as an example, to respect others and nature, to be kind and to protect your dear ones. I see major flaws in how Judaism is practiced in the state of Israel today. Many misunderstandings of the truth lead people to follow blindly without questioning and the result is idolatry – worship of the Rabbis and men – very wrong indeed. I find it very ironic that the orthodox organization wants to close the Buddhist center claiming idolatry as the reason. Obviously this is a mere projection of what’s happening in those orthodox orgs behind closed doors.

  • I’m a Buddhist. The problem here seems to be a misunderstanding about what devotion to the Buddha really is. We do not worship him as a God in the sense that the Jews worship their God, but rather revere him as an enlightened teacher. I think that we should be able to learn from each others’ traditions. I can see how Jewish persons might misinterpret bowing to the Buddha, but they maybe should ask questions and learn the truth about Buddhism instead of wanting to ban it.

  • I practice a very traditional jewish lifestyle for many years now and I live in Israel and was very bother with many flaws and ideas and actions of the “organized orthodox” groups. These bothers and shortcomng were begining to crush my mind and soul. I started practicing Zen Mediation and I because of this I still live a jewish lifestyle and I have NEVER been happier or more at peace. Im at peace more then ever before with who I am and with the people I see around me and I am okay with the shortcomings of the organized orthodox who try to direct so much of the lifes of jews. I still do Jewish Mitzvot and now I happily blend my peace and stillness of mind along with this. I really hope this center is allowed to open. Many people here in Israel can benefit from the wisdom and patience we can learn from Buddism.

  • Many top Buddhist scholars are Jews.

    Nanaponika thera, Buikku Bodhi etc.

    israleis should not be like Muslims. they should allow other religions.


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