“That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist” by Sylvia Boorstein

book cover

Subtitle: On Being a Faithful Jew and a Passionate Buddhist

Recommended to me by: a friend

Sylvia Boorstein is a Buddhist meditation teacher who grew up Jewish and who came to keep kosher and belong to a synagogue as an adult in addition to her Buddhist practice. As a secular Jew who meditates every morning, I was very interested to see how she mixes the two paths. The book shares how she came to each aspect of her faiths, and how they nourish her.

She likes Buddhism for its practical tools to manage anxiety and grief. She says repeatedly that a calm mind is a compassionate one, and greed and anger melt away. She likes Judaism for its ties to her roots, for community, and for the comfort she finds in its forms of prayer. She ties them together by interpreting Jewish scripture as carrying the same messages as Buddhist thought.

She addresses one of my main objections to Jewish services – the patriarchy embedded in the stories of the Torah – by saying it doesn’t bother her. She just reads around it. Glad that works for her.

Overall, an interesting overview of Buddhism, Judaism, and Sylvia Boorstein’s journey with both.

Available at Powell’s Books.

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