Category Archives: News

New Walkway!

The dangerously irregular old walkway has been replaced by a much nicer and safer one. Thanks to Rob Lyons and his crew, which included Dean Bradley, Heiko John Lake, Livius Muff, Ron Nestor, Paul O’Leary, Ken Powelson, and Alan Senauke, with bricks donated by Greg Denny and Marie Hopper.

Rob and Heiko putting on the finishing touches.
New path to the Gateless Gate.


Priest Ordinations

On Saturday, September 23, a priest ordination (Shukke Tokudo) was held for three members of our sangha.
On that lovely autumn afternoon Carol Paul (Shiken Seigetsu, Intention Clear Serene Moon), Joel Feigin (Kyoshin Jôku, Melodious Heart Continuous Offering ), and Bruce Coughran (Genzan Seitoku, Dark Mountain Quiet Virtue) received the Bodhisattva Precepts from Sojun Mel Weitzman and Hozan Alan Senauke.
We are grateful for the ordinees’ sincere and diligent efforts, as well as for the support of so many others, whose contributions, large and small, equally made this wonderful event possible. We look forward to years of practice with Carol, Joel, and Bruce as they make their way with us on this unknowable path.

Position Changes

Bruce Coughran has passed his part of zendo management on to Leslie Bartholic, who will finish out the year sharing responsibilities with Mark Copithorne.
Anne Jennings has been creating the Dokusan calendars for us to schedule our meetings with Sojun and Hozan for eight years. She now passes the template on to Raghav Bandla.
Ken Powelson, our Head Resident of the past few years, will pass on the responsibilities of this position to Alexandra Frappier.
Hannah Meara will assume the role of Shika (Guest Coordinator) from Ken Powelson. The Shika arranges for the welcome and comfort of our overnight guests.
Dean Bradley will carry on the Co-Saturday Director duties from Mary Beth Lamb in January. She will alternate these Saturdays with Judy Fleischman, who is entering her second year at the position.
Mary Duryee has fulfilled the role of Project Manager for the past few years. After her Shusodom, she was invited by Sojun Roshi to be our board President. The search to find her P.M. successor didn’t take long, since Rob Lyons, who recently oversaw the replacement of our temple entrance brick pathway, was our pick to carry on with the important duties of this position.
Ed Herzog has been our Saturday Work Leader, coordinating the care and maintenance of our temple each week for the last three years. He now passes his clipboard to Ken Powelson. Please come to our Saturday work circle and help us support our practice place. Many hands make light work!
Thanks to you all for your dedication! 🙏

BZC Celebrates First Half Century

On September 30 around 200 people attended BZC’s gala Fiftieth Anniversary celebration at the Jack London Aquatic Center in Oakland.

In February 1967 Sojun Mel Weitsman, with help and encouragement from his teacher Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, rented a big house on Dwight Way in Berkeley and founded Berkeley Zen Center. Our fiftieth anniversary as a sangha also joyously celebrates fifty years of Sojun Roshi’s warm-hearted and continuing leadership. Partygoers ranged from the earliest years on Dwight Way to folks who have only recently found their way to our current Russell Street location. The energy was palpable. There was no shortage of smiles and lively warm conversations in the main hall, with pleasant live music in the background. Separate smaller rooms were set aside for viewing past images of BZC and for remembering and honoring those BZC stalwarts who are no longer with us. An outside balcony area was also a popular place to hang out during the balmy early autumn evening.

Liz reminisces about early days on Dwight Avenue.

Following a tasty light dinner, a lavish birthday cake was presented, and the speeches soon commenced. Master of Ceremonies Hozan Alan Senauke introduced a series of speakers, beginning with Sojun Roshi, whose reminiscences received a prolonged standing ovation. His wife Liz Horowitz then shared stories about early temple life with Sojun, followed by several other folks from across the decades who spoke from the heart about what BZC and Sojun have meant in their lives.

Sojun asks, “Who was there during the 1960s? Stand up!”

With speeches concluded and toasts made, people lingered to talk some more and then say their goodbyes. As they filed out they were handed a beautiful, lovingly compiled Fiftieth Anniversary booklet, full of captioned photos and insightful pieces written by dozens of our members from across the years.

(The booklet can be viewed or downloaded at

Ken Berman admits he was there.

It was indeed an evening to savor and remember. Innumerable bows to the more than fifty volunteers who contributed many long hours toward making this semicentennial event a wonderful time together!

Here are just a few photos from the event. Many more will soon be available on the BZC photo site.

Family Practice at BZC

Our Family Practice program is in transition; we are not sure what we will be offering during the rest of this year. We’d love to hear from you what you want and need.
We also have a Yahoo email group devoted to family practice issues. We only send at most one email a week. To join the group or to send any other comments or queries, please contact Laurie Senauke at


Jizo Ceremony for Those Who Have Died

The loss of a loved one often opens a well of profound grief. No matter whether the loved one dies suddenly or slowly, whether through illness, accident, miscarriage, abortion, or suicide, our sorrow is deep and may be long-lasting. To help families and friends in their process of grief, we will honor our lost loved ones in a ceremony in our Jizo garden on Saturday, October 14, 1:00-3:00 pm.
Jizo, the Earth Store Bodhisattva, is viewed as a guide and protector for those who are enduring the loss of a loved one, particularly a child lost in miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, or in early life. Jizo’s vow is to remain in the world until all beings are free from suffering, and he accompanies children when they pass out of this world.
Before the ceremony we will spend time making a personal memorial for a lost one, by writing a message or by making a simple necklace, a robe for our Jizo statue, or other offering. Attendees are also invited to bring a picture of their loved one or other personal tokens of remembrance for our altar.
The ceremony will be led by two BZC priests, Gerry Oliva and Judy Fleischman. All BZC members, members of other Zen groups, and neighborhood residents are invited to attend. A more detailed description will be posted on the BZC courtyard bulletin board. There is no fee but offerings of dana are welcome. We will not have a sign-up sheet, but request that those attending let us know in advance so that we can have adequate supplies and refreshments. For more information or to let us know that you’re coming, contact Gerry Oliva at or (520) 652-7217.

Oryoki Training

Are you ready to deepen your formal meal practice in the zendo? Would you like to explore and learn how to use oryoki bowls with cloths? Please look for flyers on the bulletin board for monthly half-hour trainings. Upcoming instructions will be happening Saturday, September 23, 11:30 a.m. to noon; and Friday, October 20, 4:30-5:00 p.m. You can also contact Sue Oehser at (510) 339-0243 or to arrange some other time.
Mary Stares from San Francisco Zen Center gave a wonderful talk about the spirit of oryoki which you can find at

Men’s Shelter Dinner: Join Us!

A BZC crew cooks and serves Friday night dinner at the Berkeley Men’s Shelter twice a month, every month—and we’ve been doing it for 20 years! Lance Shows and Laurie Senauke take turns being head cook. Every time, they need two or three volunteers to be assistant cooks, four more people to serve food and clean up the shelter kitchen at the end of the meal, and someone to provide dessert.
It’s satisfying work, a good way to get to know other BZC members, and a chance to contribute to the well-being of others. More help is always needed. Sign up on the community room porch bulletin board or let Lance and Laurie know that you are interested and we will send you a reminder a few days before the next date: or

Caregiver Support Meeting

Are you helping a loved one with health challenges or to do things that they used to do for themselves? Many in our sangha are doing so. Being responsible for another can be an unrelenting practice. Sangha Support is sponsoring a gathering to share experiences, tips, and resources to support your efforts, facilitated by Laurie Senauke and Debbie Schley. All are welcome to come on Sunday, September 17, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., at the Senauke house, 1933 Russell. Please RSVP at the contact info below (there won’t be a sign-up sheet for this). Also contact us if you’d like more information, or if this topic is of interest but you will not be able to attend. Please contact Debbie at or (503) 505-4282.