A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen
by Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D.

Publisher:  Da Capo

Pub Date:  2008

Format:   Hardcover

Brief Description
Critically acclaimed author and nationally recognized psychologist Dr. Brenda Shoshanna (Zen and the Art of Falling in Love, Zen Miracles) offers a new book discussing the practices of Judaism and Zen.

Named One of the Best Spiritual Books of the Year
--Spirituality and Health Magazine

“The living encounter between Jewish and Buddhist practice has been unfolding over the past three decades, in the lives of many individuals, as Buddhism comes to the West. While Brenda Shoshanna’s book appears at first to be a practical manual seeking to compare and integrate two very different traditions, Zen Buddhism and Judaism, at another level it tells the story of a woman’s coming to terms with the deepest part of each tradition, with a full awareness of the opportunities and contradictions involved. Her personal anecdotes of a childhood in an Orthodox enclave in Brooklyn and of her encounters with Japanese Zen teachers are captivating. They ground this book in the life of an admirable and honest narrator, one who has worked her way through seeming contradictions to peace. Brenda Shoshanna has found a constructive way to integrate both traditions, for instance by using meditative practices to prepare for Jewish observances. She is creating a unique path. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a foot in more than one world.”
—Roger Kamenetz, author of The Jew in the Lotus and The History of Last Night’s Dream


“Dr. Brenda Shoshanna flies on two wings: A deep love of orthodox Jewish faith and her Zen practice of 36 years. Her vision embraces both traditions with fidelity and beauty.”
—Robert Kennedy, S.J., Roshi, author of Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit and Zen Gifts to Christians

“Like so many Jewish Buddhists from Brooklyn, including myself, Brenda Shoshanna strives to be both a mensch and a Bodhisattva. Her Torah as well as her Dharma, her good heart and wisdom mind, shine through in this delightful, interesting, psychologically astute, and practical book. Anyone interested in finding deeper understanding and meaningful purpose in life will be rewarded by reading any one of Jewish Dharma’s pages.”
—Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within and other books, and founder of Dzogchen Meditation Centers

“I couldn’t put Jewish Dharma down. With wisdom, humor, depth and dedication, Dr. Brenda Shoshanna guides us into the heart of Jewish and Zen practice, which enrich one another in ways that will enhance your practice of both, or either. A must read for anyone who wishes to explore Zen meditation and Jewish life.”
—Rabbi Marcia Prager, author of The Path of Blessing 

“This rewarding book is a must-read for Jews who want to enrich their spiritual practice through Zen meditation. Dr. Shoshanna highlights the similarities and complementary differences in approaches of these two great spiritual traditions in a way that is clear and easy to put into practice in daily life.”
—Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, Buddhist teacher and author of Buddhism for Beginners and Working with Anger 

“Jewish Dharma uniquely captures the dynamic complementarities that exist between the Buddhist and Jewish worlds. Dr. Shoshanna’s adamant refusal to give up the riches of one tradition in order to embrace the treasures of another serves to deepen the power of both Jewish and Buddhist practice. She keeps her Jewish passion while opening to the spaciousness of Zen.”
—Rabbi Shefa Gold, author of Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land

“A magnificent exploration of the heart of both Judaism and Zen. Beautifully written, Jewish Dharma brings two worlds together in a way that shines light on both and will bring wisdom and unity to people of all religions and paths. I cannot recommend the book highly enough.”
— Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, PhD, pioneer of the interfaith movement in the United States and founder of All-Faiths Seminary International 

“Dr. Brenda Shoshanna gently and clearly teaches the core messages of both Judaism and Zen Buddhism and shows how compatible and complementary these practices are. Jewish Dharma is an important book because it focuses on the truths of these two major streams of spiritual and ethical living. It is a must read for all of us who are following a spiritual path.”
—Rabbi Roger Ross, executive director, Rabbinical Seminary International

“This is a profound work of great importance to both the merely curious as well as the serious spiritual seeker—a wonderful bridge, merging and magnifying the best of Judaism and Zen.”
—Lewis Harrison, Author of The Mystic Teachings of the Taoist Masters, Director, the Harrison Center for Self Actualization


Profiled in the Florida Sun Sentinel



"MANY CONVERTS to Buddhism feel a lingering attachment to their original faiths even as they pursue the path to enlightenment. For those who try to make room in their lives for both menorahs and mu, Brenda Shoshanna's Jewish Dharma: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen (Da Capo Press, 2008, $25.00 cloth, 320 pp.) offers insights on how the two practices can coexist and even inform one another. In chatty, often personal writing, Shoshanna, a psychologist and Zen practitioner, compares Jewish and Zen takes on self-discovery, charity and mindfulness, finding common ground between traditions like Sabbath and zazen (sitting meditation), right speech and loshon hora (guarding your words)."
--Tricycle Magazine, Books in Brief By Sarah Todd

"Brenda Shoshana is a practicing psychologist with more than 25 years of experience. She is the author of several books including Zen and the Art of Falling in Love. Raised in an orthodox Jewish family, she is now a long-term student and practitioner of both Judaism and Zen Buddhism. As an interfaith counselor, she has written an extraordinary book that vividly demonstrates the rich cross-fertilization that can take place when your spiritual practice stems from two traditions. Of an estimated three million practicing Buddhists in the United States today, nearly one third also identify themselves as Jewish. Shoshanna addresses them and all others who are open to the adventure of interspirituality.

The material covered in this book conveys the wisdom and ethical sweep of both Judaism and Zen. The chapter titles preview her broad perspective:

• Jewish Prayer and the Practice of Zazen • Seeking Understanding: Torah Study and Koan Practice • Disciplining Yourself: Mitzvot and Mindfulness • Calming the Restless Mind: Sabbath and Nondoing • Giving Up Defensiveness: Charity and Open Hands • Guarding Your Words: Lashon Hara and the Zen Practice of Silence • Finding True Support: Dissolving False Attachments and Letting Go • Discovering Yourself: Jewish Identity and Selflessness and more. • Building Relationships: Marriage and Courtship; Monks and Nuns • Making Peace in the Family and the World: Forgiveness and Renunciation • Healing Sorrow: Tikkun Olam and Total Acceptance • Understanding Life Purpose: Caring for One Another and Bodhisattva Activity
Shoshana uses many colorful anecdotes from Judaism and Zen but the major emphasis is on the practices which animate these two sturdy traditions. She points out that in the Zen tradition if you want to see the beauty of a room, you take everything out so that you can get a glimpse of its original nature: "In Zen practice you do the same. You take everything out of your life that causes clutter, static, confusion, and greed. . . . As you do this, you naturally find your own inner balance and strength."

Both Zen and Judaism require persistence — the ability to absorb disappointment and disillusionment. Each calls us to live in the present moment, to eschew distractions, to abandon pride, and to practice love and kindness. Both traditions present a new way of life: Zen as the middle way and Torah as a life of balance.

The discipline and structure of spiritual practice in both Judaism and Zen offer an alternative to the compulsive behavior and addiction that is so rampant in our culture. Observing the Sabbath in Judaism and the practice of nondoing in Zen are antidotes to restlessness, greed, and consumerism.

In closing, we present just two examples of the kind of practices that make this such a rich and practical book, one that you will turn to again and again. From Judaism, here is a practice of charity. And from Zen, a practice of hospitality.

"Open your hand and give many times. It is a mitzvah to give charity (tzedukah) to the poor. You are more obligated to do this mitzvah than any other. It says that whoever sees a poor person and turns his eyes away, transgresses. You should not think that by giving charity you are losing money; just the opposite, you will be blessed. There are many forms of charity — money, time, attention, work, giving someone else the benefit of the doubt. Give with an open hand and heart, and your life will be fruitful. The highest way of giving is simply to give, wanting nothing in return."

"From the Zen point of view, the deepest kindness and generosity is to welcome others exactly as they are. This deep form of welcoming strangers welcomes them in truth and simplicity; it welcomes the authentic person, not the persona or mask that we wear. In many Zen centers, individuals wear plain robes. The purpose of this is so that no one can feel more important if he has fancy clothes or fine jewelry. With robes on it is more difficult to compare oneself to others, or to focus on external presentation. And one, in turn, cannot rely on costumes or props. Who one truly is, speaks for oneself."
Books and Audios Recently Reviewed Reviews and database copyright © 1970 – 2007by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat "

--Spirituality and Practice Magazine



For Jews, Zen students, “JuBus,” and other open-minded seekers—a guide to authentic Jewish and Zen practice and how they illuminate, challenge, and enrich each other

     Books like The Jew in the Lotus have helped to define the intersection of Jewish and Zen experience and practice. Now, in the first guide to the practice of both Judaism and Zen, Dr. Brenda Shoshanna, a long-time practitioner and student of both, presents her gained wisdom for the more than one million who identify as “JuBus,” as well as Jews, Zen students, non-Jews, and everyone in the interfaith community who seeks understanding, meaning, and how to live a life grounded in these authentic faiths.
     Each chapter of Jewish Dharma focuses on common issues that introduce disorder to our lives through personal narrative, parables, quotations from both Jewish and Zen scriptures, anecdotes, and exercises. Specific guidelines and exercises help readers integrate both practices into their everyday lives—and thereby gain deeper understanding and happiness.

Past Reviews and Endorsements

"Dr. Shoshanna's words are wonderful!"
--Marianne Williamson

“A powerful, potentially life-changing book.”
–Body & Soul

"This is relationship, samurai style, as we are systematically led along the path from "becoming available" to "meeting the beloved."...Shoshanna studied with the zen masters Soen Nakagawa Roshi and Eido Shimano Roshi; the rigor of traditional monastic training shines through the spare language and format.  Aspects of Zen training that can be controversial or confounding are presented matter-of-factly....The reader can just follow the "Steppingstones to Love" in each chapter--small actions that, like consistent meditation practice, lead incrementally to awareness.  For those with love issues--isn't that most of us, at one time or another?--Shoshanna holds out the redemptive possibilities of practice."
--Tricycle Magazine (on Zen and the Art of Falling in Love)

"Readers searching for broader meaning will revel in her ability to weave together the basic tenets of relationship psychology with the self-realization techniques of Zen practice. Nor is Shoshanna's advice limited to affairs of the heart; much of her counsel-to be open, loving and full of faith-feels relevant to all aspects of life."
--Publishers Weekly

"There's some good, solid advice here that just might help the lovelorn break some of their destructive patterns and connect the dots as to why true love is always passing them by."
--St. Petersburg Times

"Falling in love doesn't mean being blind or entering into fantasy," says Brenda Shoshanna, author of Zen and the Art of Falling in Love. "It means waking up out of darkened dreams to finally see the beauty that surrounds us." Sounds good."
--Chicago Sun Times

"Shoshanna extends an empty and richly filled hand, offering both the sublime and the practical, which are one and the same in the Zen world. This is a highly recommended volume for beginners and new practitioners who are coming to the truth that "to find the answers to your life questions, you must look within. Nothing less will do. Nothing more is needed."' 
--Publishers Weekly [for Zen Miracles]

 “Dr. Shoshanna challenges us to let go of fantasies, expectations, fears and anticipation so we can be fully present to life. Her wisdom is genuine and deeply considered. Her book is well worth reading.”
--Spiritual Parenting [for Zen Miracles]

"If you are looking for a way to have happiness and still live in this world, you have come to the right book. Rarely do eloquent prose, gems of quotes, simple wisdom, and practical exercises come in one book: Zen Miracles offers all of these and more. Whatever your spiritual orientation, this is a book you will refer to for years to come."
--Lee Jampolsky, Ph.D.
author of Healing Together, Healing the Addictive Mind, and The Art of Trust

"This wonderful book brings East and West – and ancient and modern worlds – together and provides profound wisdom and guidance for anyone struggling with stress, anxiety, anger, fear or loneliness. Beautifully written, funny, warm and filled with unusual, wonderful exercises. A real miracle."
--Rabbi Gary Moskowitz
Director of the Institute for Violence Prevention

"A healing journey into the inner conflicts and contradictions that separate spirit from self."
--Armand DiMele,
the DiMele Center for Psychotherapy

"Dr. Brenda Shoshanna is a versatile, creative, warm and truly excellent teacher."
--Rabbi Joseph Gelberman
founder of the Interfaith Seminary and Director of the All Faith Seminary

"Zen Miracles is a book that is invaluable for anyone seeking to bring a profound, yet genuinely joyous experience to life. Brenda Shoshanna explores the spiritual and therapeutic aspects of Zen practice in a way that is acceptable to anyone no matter what their faith, philosophy or religious beliefs. With her warm and compassionate style she exhibits the unique ability to explain even the most difficult ideas in understandable terms. Her approach is readily accessible and applicable to even the most mundane of activities. This book is a must for anyone seeking the secrets for attaining a balanced life and true peace of mind."
--Lewis Harrison
Director of the Academy of Natural Healing

"Zen Miracles is an inviting and inspiring message for those looking for a more simple and powerful way to enhance their lives and for those who want to integrate a practical way of peace in today's distorted and increasingly violent world."
--Bob Goff
New York Naturally

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About Dr. Brenda Shoshanna, Ph. D.

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Books in the Peace of Mind genre

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Books in the Relationship genre

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Books in the Spirituality genre

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A psychologist and therapist for 28 years, Dr. Brenda Shoshanna published work has integrated psychology and spirituality in facing life's crucial questions. She is the author of numerous books in the spirituality, zen, psychology and relationship genres. In the Peace of Mind genre, she is author of NO PROBLEM, NO WORRY: The Zen Road to Happiness, LIVING BY ZEN, ZEN MIRACLES, FEARLESS: 7 Principles of Peace Of Mind, THE ANGER DIET: 30 Days To Stress Free Living (listed as one of the best books of the year by Spirituality and Health), and EVERYDAY GRATITUDE. In the Relationship genre, she is author of ZEN AND THE ART OF FALLING IN LOVE, WHY MEN LEAVE, GETTING HIM TO TALK, SAVE YOUR RELATIONSHIP and THE HAPPY MARRIAGE MANUAL. In the Spirituality genre, she is author of JEWISH DHARMA: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen, and of COMPASSIONATE CARE: Emotional, Psychological and Spiritual Guidance During Times of Illness and Loss.

Her books all offer psychological and spiritual guidance, combining spiritual wisdom with psychological insight and practical advice. She has received widespread critical-acclaim for all of her books, with excellent reviews from publications such as Tricycle, Publishers Weekly, Body & Soul and others, and she has won the NABE Award for the Best Book of the Year in the Category of Health. Her books have been translated into 18 languages, and she appears frequently on national television, in national print, and in major venues online (she is the Relationship Expert on She has spoken and taught at many universities and has offered over 500 talks and workshops nationally on all aspects of psychology, spirituality and fulfilling one's potential. She also hosted her own radio show on the Gary Null network, which offered her a weekly platform to address a wide range of issues dealing with spirituality and self-help. 

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