U.S. Buddhist Rev. Goldwater dies at age 93

LOS ANGELES, Los Angeles Times

The Rev. Julius A. Goldwater, an early American convert to Buddhism revered for safeguarding the belongings of hundreds of Japanese Americans forced into internment campus during World War II, died June 11 at his home here after an illness. He was 93.

A descendant of a German Jewish clan that included the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, his first cousin, he became an ordained Buddhist priest in the ’30s, when Buddhism was relatively unknown in the United States and Caucasian converts were rare. He went on to teach Buddhism in Los Angeles for almost 70 years.

From the ’60s to the ’80s, when new waves of immigration brought Buddhists from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Korea and other countries to the United States, Goldwater helped them get settled and establish temples, often with money from his own pocket. He was part of the group, along with Piyananda, that founded the Buddhist Sangha Council in the ’80s to draw together diverse representatives of Southern California growing Buddhist community.

Goldwater was born in 1908 to a well-to-do Los Angeles family. He encountered Buddhism as a teenager when he went to live with his father in Hawaii after the death of his mother. There he was impressed by the teachings of three men: the Rev. Ernest Hunt, an Englishman who had become a Buddhist minister; Yeimyo Imamura, a Japanese bishop; and Tai Xu, a Chinese monk. In 1928, he started a study group called the Buddhist Brotherhood in America and began to teach Buddhism in Los Angeles.

During the ’30s, he was ordained in Kyoto, Japan, by the Jodo Shinshu sect. He was ordained again in Hangzhou, China, where he spent time in a monastery. He took a Buddhist name, Subhadra.

In the late ’30s, he returned to Los Angeles to become a minister at a large Buddhist temple.