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Jewish Dharma: Web-exclusive interview with Brenda Shoshanna
interest in all things both Asian and Jewish began when I was a child,
living on top of a Chinese restaurant overlooking a synagogue. Now,
many years later, I am discovering through Brenda Shoshanna’s Jewish
Dharma how more than one million people are synthesizing Judaism and
the Eastern wisdom tradition of Buddhism. In this exclusive web
interview, Shoshanna discusses where the paths of Zen and Judaism meet
and diverge. —ANDREA MILLER, editor
What are the main differences between Judaism and Zen?
In a sense, Judaism and Zen represent two opposite ends of a continuum: Zen is based on radical freedom, individuality, being in the present and non-attachment. Judaism comes rooted in family relationships, love, prayer to a Higher Power and the injunction to hold on and remember. A Jewish heart is warm, giving, human, devoted to family and friends and filled with the longing for the well-being of all. A Zen eye is fresh, direct, spontaneous, planted in the present moment. It is unencumbered by ideas, beliefs, tradition, hopes or expectations. These practices are like two wings of a bird, both are needed for it to fly.