100 books like Zen Judaism

By Avi Sion,

Here are 100 books that Zen Judaism fans have personally recommended if you like Zen Judaism. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet's Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India

Brenda Shoshanna Author Of Jewish Dharma: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen

From my list on Zen and Judaism.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lifelong practitioner and teacher of both Zen and Judaism, I am also a psychologist, who has constantly grappled with human needs, suffering, and the craving for meaning. The focus of my life has been to integrate the profound teachings of East and West and provide ways of making these teachings real in our everyday lives. An award-winning author, I have published many books on Zen and psychology, and have been the playwright in residence at the Jewish Repertory Theater in NY. Presently, I offer two weekly podcasts, Zen Wisdom for Your Everyday Life, and One Minute Mitzvahs. I also provide ongoing Zen talks both for Morningstar Zen and Inisfada Zen, workshops, and other talks for the community.

Brenda's book list on Zen and Judaism

Brenda Shoshanna Why did Brenda love this book?

While on a trip to Dharamsala, India, for a Buddhist–Jewish dialogue with the Dalai Lama, the author, Rodger Kamenetz, comes to understand the incredible connection between Buddhist and Jewish thought. Along the way he encounters many Jews who have become distanced from their roots and tradition, seeking meaning in other practices. Through the author’s amazing journey into Tibetan Buddhism, he is finally able to come to an appreciation of the power and beauty of his own Jewish practice and roots.

By Rodger Kamenetz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Jew in the Lotus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kamenetz, a poet and a Jew, was invited to attend and write about a historical meeting between a delegation of American Jews and a group of Tibetan Buddhists that included the Dalai Lama. This interfaith get-together was inspired, in part, by the increasing number of Jews who have become Buddhists as well as the Dalai Lama's perception of Jews as survival experts. The Dalai Lama felt that the Jews, experts in exile and the preservation of faith and practice, would offer advice and comfort; participating rabbis were intrigued by the surprising similarities between the two religions, including esoteric traditions and…


Book cover of Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life: Awakening Your Heart, Connecting with God

Brenda Shoshanna Author Of Jewish Dharma: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen

From my list on Zen and Judaism.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lifelong practitioner and teacher of both Zen and Judaism, I am also a psychologist, who has constantly grappled with human needs, suffering, and the craving for meaning. The focus of my life has been to integrate the profound teachings of East and West and provide ways of making these teachings real in our everyday lives. An award-winning author, I have published many books on Zen and psychology, and have been the playwright in residence at the Jewish Repertory Theater in NY. Presently, I offer two weekly podcasts, Zen Wisdom for Your Everyday Life, and One Minute Mitzvahs. I also provide ongoing Zen talks both for Morningstar Zen and Inisfada Zen, workshops, and other talks for the community.

Brenda's book list on Zen and Judaism

Brenda Shoshanna Why did Brenda love this book?

This approach to meditation includes the wisdom of Buddhism and Judaism as a way to learn from life experience. By combining these two traditions, Rabbi Roth presents a model that allows westerners―both Jews and non-Jews―to embrace timeless Eastern teachings and integrate them with Jewish practice as well.

By Rabbi Jeff Roth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Awaken your heart and mind to see your own capacity for wisdom, compassion and kindness.

"When we awaken to our own light, it becomes possible to develop real wisdom about our life. As wisdom allows us to see clearly, our hearts break open with compassion for the struggles of our own lives and the lives of all beings. Awakened with wisdom and compassion, we are impelled to live our lives with kindness, and we are led to do whatever we can to repair the brokenness of our world."
—from the Introduction

At last, a fresh take on meditation that draws…


Book cover of One God Clapping: The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi

Brenda Shoshanna Author Of Jewish Dharma: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen

From my list on Zen and Judaism.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lifelong practitioner and teacher of both Zen and Judaism, I am also a psychologist, who has constantly grappled with human needs, suffering, and the craving for meaning. The focus of my life has been to integrate the profound teachings of East and West and provide ways of making these teachings real in our everyday lives. An award-winning author, I have published many books on Zen and psychology, and have been the playwright in residence at the Jewish Repertory Theater in NY. Presently, I offer two weekly podcasts, Zen Wisdom for Your Everyday Life, and One Minute Mitzvahs. I also provide ongoing Zen talks both for Morningstar Zen and Inisfada Zen, workshops, and other talks for the community.

Brenda's book list on Zen and Judaism

Brenda Shoshanna Why did Brenda love this book?

Like a Zen koan or a Jewish folk tale, One God Clapping presents a series of stories, each containing a moment of revelation that is never simple or contrived. This book is a bold experiment in the integration of Eastern and Western ways of looking at and living in the world.

By Alan Lew, Sherril Jaffe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One God Clapping as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Zen Buddhist practitioner to rabbi, East meets West in this firsthand account of a spiritual journey.

Rabbi Alan Lew is known as the Zen Rabbi, a leader in the Jewish meditation movement who works to bring two ancient religious traditions into our everyday lives. One God Clapping is the story of his roundabout yet continuously provoking spiritual odyssey. It is also the story of the meeting between East and West in America, and the ways in which the encounter has transformed how all of us understand God and ourselves.

Winner of the PEN / Joseph E. Miles Award

Like…


Book cover of Be Still and Get Going: A Jewish Meditation Practice for Real Life

Brenda Shoshanna Author Of Jewish Dharma: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen

From my list on Zen and Judaism.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lifelong practitioner and teacher of both Zen and Judaism, I am also a psychologist, who has constantly grappled with human needs, suffering, and the craving for meaning. The focus of my life has been to integrate the profound teachings of East and West and provide ways of making these teachings real in our everyday lives. An award-winning author, I have published many books on Zen and psychology, and have been the playwright in residence at the Jewish Repertory Theater in NY. Presently, I offer two weekly podcasts, Zen Wisdom for Your Everyday Life, and One Minute Mitzvahs. I also provide ongoing Zen talks both for Morningstar Zen and Inisfada Zen, workshops, and other talks for the community.

Brenda's book list on Zen and Judaism

Brenda Shoshanna Why did Brenda love this book?

Combining the teachings of Zen and Judaism Rabbi Lew creates a wonderful balance between stillness and activity. The book includes both Buddhist and Jewish teachings and addresses the pain and psychological issues we grapple with daily.

By Alan Lew,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Be Still and Get Going as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written in a warm, accessible, and intimate style, Be Still and Get Going will touch those who are searching for an authentic spiritual practice that speaks to them in their own cultural language. Lew is one of the most sought-after rabbis on the lecture circuit. He has had national media exposure for his dynamic fusion of Eastern insight and Bible study, having been the subject of stories on ABC News, the McNeil Lehrer News Hour, and various NPR programs. In the past five years there have been national conferences on Jewish meditation in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Miami where…


Book cover of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Debbie Chein Morris Author Of We Used to Dance: Loving Judy, My Disabled Twin

From my list on getting through life’s challenges.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the age of fifty-three, I was suddenly thrust into the role of primary caregiver for my disabled twin sister who was unable to sit, stand, feed herself, eat solid foods, or communicate. Up to that point, that role had been my mother’s with the help of home-attendants; but my mother was aging and the care provided by the ever-changing attendants was wanting. I was forced to place Judy in a nursing home. The challenge left me overwhelmed with the responsibility of overseeing her care and there were days I wondered if I could go on. With the support of family and friends, I was able to make it through.

Debbie's book list on getting through life’s challenges

Debbie Chein Morris Why did Debbie love this book?

I first read this book shortly after it was published in 1981. I was looking for the answer to the question of why bad things happen in this world.

Kushner did not have an answer to that question, but insights into how we might face the challenges that life can present when those “bad things” happen. He, himself, went through a significant trauma: hearing that his young son had a progressive disease that would not allow him to live into adulthood. Yet Kushner found a way to survive and to move forward.

I’ve read this book multiple times. It always reinforces for me the idea that the difficulties we face in life are just part of living and that even though we may suffer through hard times, life is, indeed, worth living. We can and we must go on.

By Harold S. Kushner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Bad Things Happen to Good People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 bestselling inspirational classic from the nationally known spiritual leader; a source of solace and hope for over 4 million readers.

When Harold Kushner’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease that meant the boy would only live until his early teens, he was faced with one of life’s most difficult questions: Why, God? Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes. In these pages, Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, a reader, and a human being. Often imitated but never superseded, When Bad…


Book cover of Judaism Disrupted: A Spiritual Manifesto for the 21st Century

Kerry M. Olitzky Author Of The Sisters Z

From my list on introducing Jewish ideas to others.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a rabbi, educator, scholar and author who has led congregations, organizations and taught in rabbinical seminaries. As a result, I have always straddled the world of the practitioner and the academician. These books have informed my personal religious practice and outlook, as well as my academic approach to Judaism.

Kerry's book list on introducing Jewish ideas to others

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did Kerry love this book?

By the author of the most well-known and useful DIY book (The Jewish Catalogue), this is one of the most important books of the current generation.

The author gives us a blueprint for navigating a positive and productive Jewish future and the steps for getting there. I found the book intriguing. Since I consider myself a Jewish futurist, this book projects a possible trend in the future—which I find to be quite provocative and potentially “prophetic.”

By Michael Strassfeld,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Judaism Disrupted as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


"I can't remember the last time I felt pulled to underline a book constantly as I was reading it, but Judaism Disrupted is exactly that intellectual, spiritual and personal adventure. You will find yourself nodding, wrestling, and hoping to hold on to so many of its ideas and challenges. Rabbi Strassfeld reframes a Torah that demands breakage, reimagination, and ownership. Not only did I learn so much from Strassfeld's 11 principles; I was changed by them."

-Abigail Pogrebin, author, My Jewish Year; 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew


How do you hold on to faith in a modern world? Rabbi Michael…


Book cover of A History of Judaism

James Hannam Author Of The Globe: How the Earth Became Round

From my list on how non-western cultures think about the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian who loves to tell unexpected stories about the interactions between science, religion, and philosophy. As a Christian with a physics degree, I knew the relationship between science and religion was much more interesting than an eternal conflict. So I went back to university, gained a PhD that involved reading lots of Latin and wrote God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science. Since then, I’ve been exploring how traditional ways of seeing the universe differ from modern science, and how we got from one to the other.

James' book list on how non-western cultures think about the world

James Hannam Why did James love this book?

I found this book a revelation. It reveals an entire theological and philosophical tradition that I was almost completely ignorant of.

I knew a bit about Philo and Maimonides, and of course the Hebrew Bible, but had no idea about the depth of Jewish thinking over the centuries. From the Talmud to modern Reform and Orthodox Judaism, via Saadia Gaon and the Kabbalah, this comprehensive survey is a magnificent achievement.

And it’s made all the more enjoyable by Martin Goodman’s clear prose and amazing erudition.    

By Martin Goodman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A History of Judaism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A sweeping history of Judaism over more than three millennia

Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world, and it has preserved its distinctive identity despite the extraordinarily diverse forms and beliefs it has embodied over the course of more than three millennia. A History of Judaism provides the first truly comprehensive look in one volume at how this great religion came to be, how it has evolved from one age to the next, and how its various strains, sects, and traditions have related to each other.

In this magisterial and elegantly written book, Martin Goodman takes readers…


Book cover of Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity

John Tolan Author Of Faces of Muhammad: Western Perceptions of the Prophet of Islam from the Middle Ages to Today

From my list on making you realize you don’t know what religion is.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the 1980s, I was living in Spain, teaching high school. On weekends and vacations, I traveled throughout the country, fascinated with the remnants of its flourishing medieval civilization, where Jews, Christians, and Muslims mingled. When I later became a historian, I focused on the rich history of Jewish-Christian-Muslim contact in Spain and throughout the Mediterranean. I also wanted to understand conflict and prejudice, particularly the historical roots of antisemitism and islamophobia in Europe. I have increasingly realized that classical religious texts need to be reread and contextualized and that we need to rethink our ideas about religion and religious conflict.

John's book list on making you realize you don’t know what religion is

John Tolan Why did John love this book?

How did Christianity grow out of Judaism and emerge as a separate religion? We all know, of course, that Jesus was Jewish, as were the Apostles. And it is well-known that it is Apostle Paul who first started preaching the faith of Christ to non-Jews. Yet we tend to think that by the end of the first century CE, Judaism and Christianity are two distinct and separate religions. Daniel Boyarin’s fascinating book challenges that idea. Throughout the first centuries of our era, some Jews accepted Jesus as their Messiah, others did not. Some Christians continued to frequent the synagogue and celebrate Jewish holidays, others did not. Only gradually, over the course of five or six centuries, did religious authorities (rabbis, bishops, theologians) construct and impose borders between the two “religions,” Judaism and Christianity.

By Daniel Boyarin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Border Lines as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The historical separation between Judaism and Christianity is often figured as a clearly defined break of a single entity into two separate religions. Following this model, there would have been one religion known as Judaism before the birth of Christ, which then took on a hybrid identity. Even before its subsequent division, certain beliefs and practices of this composite would have been identifiable as Christian or Jewish.In Border Lines, however, Daniel Boyarin makes a striking case for a very different way of thinking about the historical development that is the partition of Judaeo-Christianity.
There were no characteristics or features that…


Book cover of Between Zionism and Judaism: The Radical Circle in Brith Shalom 1925-1933

Paul Mendes-Flohr Author Of A Land of Two Peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs

From my list on truth and Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My engagement in the topic has two distinct vectors, academic, and personal, or, if you wish, existential. My academic engagement began when Buber's son Raphael (1900-91), who served as the Executor of  the Martin Buber Literary Estate, invited me to assemble and edit his father's writings on the "Arab Question." He explained that of all of his father's publications, his ramified writings promoting the political and human dignity of the Palestinian Arabs spoke most dearly and, as a citizen of the State of Israel, most immediately to him. I accepted Rafael's invitation with alacrity, for like Raphael I'm an Israeli by choice, having emigrated to the country in 1970. 

Paul's book list on truth and Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation

Paul Mendes-Flohr Why did Paul love this book?

The tension between nationalism and humanism, on the one hand, and between Zionism and Judaism, on the other, is vividly illustrated by this work. This is done through a comprehensive description of a variety of sources and ideas that inspired the Brith Shalom Society's radical circle in early twentieth-century Palestine, which advocated a bi-national state, in which Jews and Arabs would share on the basis of absolute parity.

By Shalom Ratzabi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Between Zionism and Judaism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work provides a vivid picture of the dichotomy between the ideology preached by the radical circle of the Brith Shalom Society and the nationalism of early twentieth-century Palestine. Many considered the Brith Shalom Society representative of the spiritual trend of Zionism.
This important book examines the aspirations and cultural sources of these men from Central Europe who met in Palestine as members of the Brith Shalom Society during the first half of the twentieth century, in the context of the political reality of a pre-independent Palestine and the new state of Israel.
The fact that this circle included well-known…


Book cover of The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God

R.G. Price Author Of Deciphering the Gospels: Proves Jesus Never Existed

From my list on the (actual) origins of Christianity and Judaism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by the Bible since my earliest days in Sunday school, coloring pictures of Noah’s Ark. Yet, even as a young child I was very skeptical of the Christian interpretation of biblical stories, seeing that they couldn’t possibly be true. But I’ve always respected the Bible as a literary work and sought to understand its details. In my years of researching the Bible and Christian origins, several works stand out as being particularly important in shaping my understanding of Judaism and Christianity. These are those books.

R.G.'s book list on the (actual) origins of Christianity and Judaism

R.G. Price Why did R.G. love this book?

This book was published in 1992, prior to the recent revolution in our understanding of Jewish and Christian origins, but no book has done more to revolutionize my own understanding of Jewish and Christian origins than this one. What is so important about this book is not any specific fact or revelation, but rather the framework that Margaret Barker establishes for understanding the complex development of Jewish concepts of divinity. Barker shows how the polytheistic roots of Semitic religion led to ongoing turmoil within ancient Judaism and interpretations of the scriptures in ways that indicated there were two or more divine beings, not one.

By Margaret Barker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Angel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What did "Son of God," "Messiah," and "Lord," mean to the first Christians when they used these words to describe their beliefs about Jesus? In this book Margaret Barker explores the possibility that, in the expectations and traditions of first-century Palestine, these titles belonged together, and that the first Christians fit Jesus' identity into an existing pattern of belief. She claims that pre-Christian Judaism was not monotheistic and that the roots of Christian Trinitarian theology lie in a pre-Christian Palestinian belief about angels--a belief derived from the ancient religion of Israel, in which there was a "High God" and several…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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