Greenbelt Interfaith News
    Washington News

    June 1, 1997

    Dalai Lama Tells Jews:
    You Understand the Pain of Exile

    Tibet's exiled high priest, the Dalai Lama, visited the White House on April 24, and also found time during his Washington stay to attend two interfaith services.

    The Dalai Lama, who is the leader of Lamaism (Tibetan Buddhism), spoke to President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore about Tibetan political issues. President Clinton promised to suggest to Chinese President Jiang Zemin that he meet with the Dalai Lama, who wishes Tibet to have self-rule. Tibet is presently under Chinese government.

    The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile since 1959, won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to win Tibetan autonomy. He was in Washington to address a peace convention on Tibet.

    After his White House visit, the Dalai Lama attended an interfaith service for religious freedom in Tibet that was held at the Washington National Cathedral. The service was co-sponsored by the International Campaign for Tibet, and among its participants was Maha Ghosananda, Supreme Buddhist Patriarch for Cambodia.

    Later that evening, the Dalai Lama went to an interfaith Passover Seder organized by Washington's Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. According to The Washington Post, the Dalai Lama enjoyed the matzo ("Very tasty") and thanked the Seder's participants for providing "a very warm feeling and your sense of solidarity."

    The Passover Seder meal celebrates the Jews' exodus from slavery in Egypt, as recorded in the Bible, a theme that the Dalai Lama found particularly fitting.

    "In our dialogue with rabbis and Jewish scholars, the Tibetan people have learned about the secrets of Jewish spiritual survival in exile," said the Dalai Lama, according to the Associated Press. "For 2,000 years, even in very difficult times, the Jewish people remember their liberation from slavery to freedom, and this has brought you hope in times of difficulty."

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    ©1997 Heather Elizabeth Peterson