American JuBu

In the current issue (Spring 2020) of Tricycle Magazine, there is a review article about Emily Sigalow’s new book, “American JewBu: Jews, Buddhists, and Religious Change.” I was deeply moved by this review to the extent of making a comment. Here is what I wrote:

I was brought up in a conservative kosher home in in the 40’s and 50’s in St. Louis, MO. I went to Hebrew school, Sunday school and holiday services throughout my first 19 years. I was really confused during the next 10 years of college and graduate school. Then I discovered yoga and Eastern religions, got married, had a kid and went to work. Things changed in 1972-3 when I was learning from Father Eli. Still practicing yoga in the Arkansas mountains at Father Eli’s ranch, I totally abandoned Judaism and practiced continuously with Eli’s teachings since then. These teachings have saved my son’s life from cancer as well as mine (see

In 1984 I met Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) at a small church in Berkeley and have identified as. JuBu since then. I became a member of the Order of Interbeing in 2008 and have been leading a sangha (meditation group) since 2009.

I’ve written about the connection between Thay’s and Father Eli’s teachings in Mindfulness Breaks: Your Path to Awakening. Would love some feedback.

Mindfulness Breaks

These have been formative experiences in my life.

I might add that two of my brothers are orthodox Jews; one lives in Israel and the other is a Rabbi in Florida. They both have Ph. D.’s and are happy with their lives. The one in Israel has 12 grandchildren, all living nearby and all very much connected with each other. My other brother and sister have also abandoned Judaism, but are not JuBu’s.

I know that Sylvia Boorstein is still a practicing Jew while being an important teacher in the Insight Meditation movement. She has no problem with both traditions.

Do you know any JuBu’s (besides me)? What is their story? Please share.

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