A magical Jewish connection

That two Jews have three opinions rings true even in the far reaches of northern India. Even in the foothills of the Himalayas, two groups hosted seders for visiting Israelis, Americans and an array of spiritual seekers.

However, what's most compelling about such activities is not that there were two seders in Dharamsala, the home of Tibetan Buddhism. Instead, amid snow-capped mountains that are far from Sinai, Jews are rediscovering they have a spiritual home of their own. In addition, they're discovering their unity with one another.

Amid cries for outreach and "inreach," one message is clear: Many younger people are seeking an alternative to the European-centered Judaism of their great-grandparents, the assimilationism of their parents, and even secular Zionism itself. Instead, they crave a spirituality they could not find within Judaism, which led them to explore Eastern faiths.

Now, thankfully, many of them are returning home, discovering that what they sought thousands of miles away was in their own tradition all along.

In addition, many secular Israelis are reawakening to Judaism as a result of spiritual journeys in Asia.

The miracle at Dharamsala is that those diverse seekers are coming back and coming together. They are celebrating the freedom to choose their pathway to Judaism and to create a connection with a greater community.

One traveler to Dharamsala, Judi Stanton of Oakland, said, "We've become like a family and a community that we can continue to build upon when we get back."

Naomi Fine of Oakland said, "We were there with those we knew, and those who were strangers, but we all spoke the same language. As the Shabbat candles got brighter, the sunset faded into the mountains. It was magical."

As we begin Shabbat, let's try to capture that magic and reconnect.