Rodger Kamenetz (born 1950) is an American poet and author. He was born in Baltimore and educated at Yale, Stanford and Johns Hopkins University. He currently lives in New Orleans and holds a dual appointment as Professor of English and Professor of Religious Studies at LSU. He is a LSU Distinguished Professor and Erich and Lea Sternberg Honors Professor. He also works as a certified dream therapist.
He is best known as the author of The Jew in the Lotus (Harper San Francisco, 1994) which is the authoritative account of the historic dialogue between rabbis and the Dalai Lama. It is an international best seller. A new "plus" edition released in 2007 includes an afterword, bringing the story of the dialogue up to date.
His "Stalking Elijah" (Harper, 1997) received the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought in 1997. In fall 2007, Harper One published "The History of Last Night's Dream" which explores the spiritual possibilities of dreaming from Genesis to now. Oprah Winfrey interviewed the author about the book in a two part XM radio broadcast, "Soul Series", in August 2008. The material was subsequently webcast.
In 1996, after a personal meeting with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, Rodger Kamenetz worked with the Interfaith Action Network of the International Campaign to free the young Panchen Lama from Chinese detainment. The world's youngest prisoner of conscience, Panchen Lama's eighth birthday fell during the first week of Passover. Struck by this coincidence, Kamenetz created a nationwide campaign of Passover Seders for Tibet, uniting the Jewish memory of slavery and oppression in Egypt long ago with the lack of religious freedom in today's Tibet under Chinese rule. A special seder was held in Washington D.C. on April 24, 1997 and attended by the Dalai Lama as well as numerous U.S. dignitaries, including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys. The seder, as well as Kamenetz's visit with the Dalai Lama was featured in a 1999 documentary, The Jew in the Lotus, which was broadcast on PBS.
In a letter to Seder participants, the Dalai Lama wrote, "In our dialogue with rabbis and Jewish scholars, the Tibetan people have learned about the secrets of Jewish spiritual survival in exile: one secret is the Passover seder. Through it for 2000 years, even in very difficult times, Jewish people remember their liberation from slavery to freedom and this has brought you hope in times of difficulty. We are grateful to our Jewish brothers and sisters for adding to their celebration of freedom the thought of freedom for the Tibetan people."
His books of poetry include "The Lowercase Jew" (Northwestern, 2003) and "The Missing Jew: New and Selected Poems" (Time Being, 1991).
Kamenetz is married to Moira Crone a novelist and short story writer. He is the father of Anya Kamenetz, also an author.