Towards the Study of Jewish-Buddhist Relations
The Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies invites applications for Fellowships for the 2020-2021 seminar in advanced Jewish Studies. The aim of the Oxford Seminar in Advanced Jewish Studies for 2020-2021 is to bring together scholars of Jewish-Buddhist relations and develop a framework for the future study of the field. To date, Jewish-Buddhist studies have received little scholarly attention, even though the historical basis for the study of the Jewish-Buddhist relationship is strong. Jewish communities have lived in India since ancient times, with the Bene Israel community claiming to have arrived there in 175 BCE. Jewish merchants started going to China during the first centuries of the Common Era, and the Kaifeng Jews were granted permission to build a synagogue in 1163. Small Jewish communities have mushroomed in other East and South Asian countries over the last few centuries. During the 1940s, China and especially Shanghai became safe havens for many European Jews. This development also worked the other way around. Buddhists from South and East Asia have increasingly migrated to North America, Israel, and Europe, where they came into contact with Jewish culture. Nowadays, Jews and Buddhists interact to an unprecedented degree. As a result of globalization, migration, and the subsequent increased circulation of ideas, Judaism and Buddhism are becoming more knowledgeable about one another. In particular, the West’s enchantment with Buddhism since the 1960s has raised many questions about the relationship between Judaism and Buddhism. This Seminar aims to usher the field of Jewish-Buddhist Studies to the prominence it unquestionably deserves. This is also the first in a series of International Network Seminars in Advanced Jewish Studies organised by the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Mandel Scholion Centre of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg.
One product of the Seminar will be the publication of an edited volume on the study of Jewish-Buddhist relations throughout the ages, the first volume of this kind. We will also explore opportunities to strengthen the research infrastructure of Jewish-Buddhist Studies, for example establishing a Jewish-Buddhist Studies network and forging a group of scholars who will collaborate in the future and pursue further projects that focus on individual aspects following the framework developed during the Seminar.