For Pesach in 2017, we went hiking in the foothills of the Himalayas, outside the Dharmsala where the Dalai Lama has his headquarters for the Tibetan people in exile.
We were lost on a trail when we encountered a Tibetan Monk who insisted that we come to his home. It was a tiny room with a tiny garden where he served us tea. Like many Tibetans, he had studied Judaism and the secrets of our survival.
As Dharmsala is on “The Hummus Trail” - the route thousands of post-army Israelis go on - the Monk had met many Israelis. These young souls are often searching for meaning, and often attracted to Buddhism.
The Tibetan Monk shared with us how the Dalai Lama, who was living in exile after the Chinese occupation and uprising, was concerned by how his people living in exile would maintain their culture, customs and traditions. So he asked the experts, the Jews, a people who have already endured 2000 years of exile: what was their secret to maintaining their Jewish identity?
The secret the Dalai Lama learned was the story of Exodus. The Exodus story gave Jews the most profound identity ever held by a nation. Exodus is the story of freedom, hope and the narrative of where we come from.
So our new friend explained that he tells the young Israelis searching for wisdom while on the Hummus Trail, that they must understand their own stories. As long as we never forget our story, we will never lose our identity.
Shabbat Shalom & Pesach Sameach!