cover image Jewish Dharma: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen

Jewish Dharma: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen

Brenda Shoshanna, Author . Da Capo $25 (304p) ISBN 978-1-60094-043-9

Raised as an Orthodox Jew in Borough Park, Brooklyn, Shoshanna always struggled with the structure of not only her religion but her lifestyle. When a teacher exposed her to Zen in high school, she found happiness, then confusion, and then of course guilt. After a lifetime of studying Zen and returning in fits and starts to a devout Jewish observance, she has found a way to balance the contradictions of a religion that covets community and devotion to God with one that centers on the individual and the quest for the essential self. The story of her struggle, while interesting—and in some cases, deeply personal—lacks consistency. Despite chapter sections on “practice,” there are few tangible prescriptions, and readers looking for the how-to guide that’s promised in the subtitle may feel cheated. Shoshanna never quite finds the balance in writing for the casual seeker versus one already familiar with both Orthodox Judaism and Buddhism—and who wants, like her, to maintain a deep connection to both traditions. (Sept.)