Teachers

The Abbot and Practice Leaders are available for dokusan/practice discussion by phone, Skype,  or Zoom.  Contact info is included in the descriptions below.

For some in-depth reflections on the role of one-to-one encounters, please see:

Practice Discussion/Dokusan by Ryushin Andrea Thach
Meeting with a Teacher at BZC by Hozan Alan Senauke

ABBOT

Hozan Alan Senauke

To arrange dokusan with Hozan Sensei, use his online calendar:  https://calendly.com/asenauke/dokusan   or contact the Abbot’s Assistant:  abbot.assist@berkeleyzencenter.org.

Hozan Sensei began practicing at BZC on Dwight Way, and later
established his practice as a student of Sojun Roshi in the early 1980s. He was ordained as a Zen priest at BZC in 1989, receiving Dharma Transmission from Sojun at Tassajara in 1998. After serving as Tanto (Head of Practice) and then as Vice-Abbot at BZC, Hozan was installed as Abbot in January of 2021.

Hozan also has wide experience and a global perspective on engaged Buddhism as a force for social transformation. From 1991 he was in the leadership of Buddhist Peace Fellowship and the International Network of Engaged Buddhism. He served as president of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. Hozan is founding director of Clear View Project, offering Buddhist-based resources and support, with a focus on Indian Dalit Buddhists, Myanmar and the Rohingyas, and prisoners in the U.S.

Hozan was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1947. He brings to our
sangha a rich life as a writer and editor, a social justice activist, and
respected folk musician. Alan has been a resident at Berkeley Zen Center for since 1985. He and his wife Laurie have two adult children, Silvie and Alex, who grew up at BZC.

FOUNDER

Sojun Mel Weitsman

Sojun Mel Weitsman Roshi

Born in Los Angeles in 1929, Sojun’s broad life experience included years of art study and abstract expressionist painting, work as a house painter,  boat painter, cab driver, and music instructor.

In 1964, Sojun Roshi began to practice at San  Francisco Zen Center on Bush Street, and in  1969 he was ordained by Suzuki Roshi as resident priest at the Berkeley Zendo. He received Dharma Transmission from Suzuki Roshi’s son and successor, Gyugaku Hoitsu, at Rinsoin temple in Japan in 1984, and was officially installed as Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center in 1985.

Along with his responsibilities in Berkeley, Sojun Roshi helped train students and teachers at several affiliated temples. From 1988 to 1997 he served as Co-Abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center. Sojun Roshi gave Dharma Transmission to numerous students, each of whom draws on their experience and understanding in offering Sojun and Suzuki Roshi’s teaching to others all over the country.

Hakuryu Sojun Roshi—White Dragon/Essence of Purity—Mel Weitsman peacefully passed from this world to the Pure Land of Buddhas and Ancestors, at 5:30 pm on January 7, 2021. He continues to live in the hearts and minds of all who knew him.

PRACTICE LEADERS

Senior students at Berkeley Zen Center present public talks, lead classes and ceremonies, and offer practice discussion (formal and informal one-on-one meetings) with individual students. The following presents brief introductory information about these sangha members for those wishing to know more about the practice leadership in our community. Senior students may be contacted with information provided below, or in the membership directory, or as posted on the patio bulletin board.

Gary Artim

Enzan Chotoku (Round Mountain/ Clear Genuine)
gartim@gmail.com

Gary started practice in 1990 with a candle and the book Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh. Slowly he found his way to Berkeley Zen Center, through Tassajara, Green Gulch, and City Center. His primary teacher was Sojun Mel Weitsman. He was lay ordained in 1997 and served as Shuso in 2022. He has held several practice positions including Tenzo, Sesshin Director, Head Server, Jikido, etc. He enjoys traveling with his wife Emily, movies and reading.

read more about Gary

Leslie Bartholic

Shinko Seiwa (Deep Lake Clear Peaceful)
lbartholic@comcast.net

Leslie began Zen practice in the early 90s with a Thich Nhat Hanh sitting group and monthly sittings at Green Gulch Zen Center. She began her practice at Berkeley Zen Center in 1999 and received lay ordination from Sojun Roshi in 2002. She has held several practice positions at BZC and served as Shuso in 2011. She received Lay entrustment from Sojun Roshi in 2017. She currently co-leads a dharma group with her husband Jake. Leslie is co-teacher at Mount Diablo Zen Group in Pleasant Hill. She retired from teaching in the public schools in 2013, having worked in special education for thirty-four years. She enjoys hiking Bay Area trails and exploring the wilderness areas of California. She lives in Pleasant Hill with her husband.

read more about Leslie

Ross Blum with Sweetpea, the temple cat

Seishi Tetsudo (Pure Determination Penetrate Way)
rossblum@icloud.com

Ross has lived in Zen temples over half his life. He began his practice in 1984 under the abbacy of Bernie Glassman at The Zen Community of New York. In 1987 he entered residency at Berkeley Zen Center and became a Lay Entrusted student of Sojun Roshi.

read more about Ross

Mary Duryee Mary Duryee

Honkyo Josu (Original home, stillness)
Maduryee@icloud.com

Mary is a retired psychologist and mediator. She grew up in the northwest, and came to the Bay Area to attend school in 1967, and has been here since. She first walked through the gate at BZC in 1993; received lay ordination from Sojun Mel Weitsman in 2004; and was head student (shuso) in 2017. She spends her time gardening, and when possible, in the wilderness, in a kayak or raft.

She is currently serving as the President of the Board of BZC.

read more about Mary

Judy Fleischman

Seicho Hoju (Essence Harmony Dharma Jewel)
judy@sensingwonder.com

Judy (dharma name Seicho Hoju, Essence Harmony / Dharma Jewel) arrived at BZC in 2013 after relocating to the Bay area. She began Zen practice in Portland, Oregon and received lay ordination from Jan Chozen Bays in 2001. She returned to her hometown NYC after 9/11 and practiced at Village Zendo where she received priest ordination from Enkyo O’Hara in 2005 and served as shuso (head student) in 2011.

 

Judy also is a practice leader with Everyday Zen whose guiding teacher is Norman Fischer. Following many years working as a healthcare chaplain, she now serves as a mindfulness educator and stealth chaplain at a private high school in San Francisco. She has held various positions at BZC including Saturday director, Online Programs Manager, and co-facilitator of Jizo ceremony (for loved ones who have died) and the MLK Day program.

read more about Judy

Susan Marvin

Sen Tei Ko Kyo (Spring Garden Virtuous Presence)
lai_hang@yahoo.com


Susan grew up in Vermont and came to San Francisco in 1979. She began
formal practice with Sojun Roshi at BZC in 1991, where she immediately
felt at home. She received lay ordination in 1995. She left temple practice
later when she and her husband were raising their child, returning when
their daughter began high school. She was the head student (Shuso) in
2015 and was given Lay Entrustment by Sojun in 2019. Susan retired from
teaching English as a Second Language at the community college level in
2023. She enjoys life with her husband Victor in and around Berkeley and
out beyond in wild places.

read more about Susan

Hannah Meara

Ki Jin Sei Sho (Resolute Compassion Clear Illumination)
hmeara@gmail.com

Hannah began practice in the 90’s in Chicago temples and periods of work practice at Green Gulch Farm. In 2000 she retired from a career in applied Sociology and began 6 years at San Francisco Zen Center: Tassajara, City Center and Green Gulch. She was ordained as a priest by Edward Brown in 2006. Since then she has moved to be close to young granddaughters, first in Santa Cruz and now Berkeley. She was active in Santa Cruz Zen Center (also in Vipassana Santa Cruz) and served as Shuso with Kokyo Henkel. In December 2015 she moved to Berkeley and to practice at Berkeley Zen Center, serving on the Board and as Zendo Manager. Her dharma name was given by her teacher Hozan Alan Senauke from whom she received Dharma Transmission in 2024.

read more about Hannah

Ron photo 09 Ron Nestor

So On So Do (Kind Plain Simple Ancestral Way)
rnestor1@yahoo.com

Ron grew up in Berkeley and joined Berkeley Zen Center in the early 70s. He was a resident both at BZC’s first home on Dwight Way and later at Russell street. Ron was head student (shuso) in the early 90s and received lay entrustment in 2012. He lives with his wife in the Grand Lake district of Oakland,and before retirement was the massage & maintenance manager of a large yoga & massage center in San Francisco.

read more about Ron

Sue Oehser

Ju Myo Sei Shin (Bright Pearl Pure Faith)
soehser@earthlink.net

Sue Oehser joined BZC in 1990 and received Lay Ordination in 1995; Sojun Roshi gave her lay ordination and the dharma name Ju Myo Sei Shin (Bright Pearl, Pure Faith. She has served as Head
Chiden, co-Zendo Manager and Saturday Director. Sue was in charge of Oryoki (eating bowl) instruction. She served on the Board and is currently (Spring 2023) the Shuso, or Head Student. Sue used to have a morning Montessori preschool at in her home, and was married to the incomparable Gordon Oehser for many years, until his death in 2019.

read more about Sue O

Gerry Oliva Gerry Oliva

Seisen Ikushin (Pure Spring Nourishing Heart)
gryoliva@gmail.com

Gerry was born to an Italian Catholic immigrant family in New York City and grew up there. She went to college and medical school and did her pediatric residency on the East coast. She bounced back and forth to and from NYC until 1972 when she moved to California to get a master’s degree in public health at UC Berkeley and adopted California as her home. In her professional life, she worked as a Clinical Pediatrician and then took on various administrative leadership roles in community public health and then joined the faculty at UCSF Medical School where she stayed for the last 20 years of her career.

From her days doing volunteer work at the Berkeley Free Clinic she encountered people who were involved in Buddhist Practice and began to explore the books they recommended and attend various lectures by visiting Buddhist teachers. But between her work life and giving birth to 2 sons, it took Gerry until 1989 to begin formal Zen practice at Green Gulch Zen Center where Tenshin Reb Anderson was her teacher. She transitioned to practice at Berkeley Zen Center in 1996 and was lay-ordained by Sojun Mel Weitsman in 1997. She was Shuso at BZC in 2008. She spent several 3-month practice periods at Tassajara Mountain Zen Center. She received priest ordination from Sojun Roshi in September of 2012 and Dharma Transmission in 2017.

Gerry facilitates the BZC Wednesday night drop-in group, is on the leadership team for the MCOS group, is on the HEAR Committee and is now the Zendo Manager for Ceremonies.

She now has 2 sons, a stepson and four grandchild and delights in helping care for her grandchildren, being with family, walking, hiking, kayaking and birding and attending various musical and theatrical events with friends

read more about Gerry

Peter Overton

Unzan Kakudo (Cloud Mountain Awakening Way)
peterovrtn@gmail.com

Peter first came to Berkeley Zen Center in 1969, and practiced here, at Zen Mountain Center, and at San Francisco Zen Center until 1984, when he and his wife Susan returned to Berkeley to raise their family. He has made Berkeley Zen Center his practice home since that time. While in San Francisco, he managed the Tassajara Bakery for six years, and was ordained by Zentatsu Baker Roshi in 1978, and served as shuso at Tassajara in 1983. He received dharma transmission from Sojun Roshi in 2015. Peter has an ongoing interest in how we speak with each other, both inside and outside of sangha settings, and has held study groups at BZC on non-violent communication (NVC) and right speech.

read more about Peter

Carol Paul

Shiken Seigetsu (Intention Clear / Serene Moon)
caroljpaul@yahoo.com

Carol entered BZC’s gate in the Fall 2002. She was lay ordained by Darlene Cohen in 2001. Over the years, she has held a variety of practice positions at BZC including Head Chiden, Saturday Director, Sesshin Director, Head Server, Co-Zendo Manager and Coordinator. She spent 2 practice periods at Tassajara in 2009 and again in 2011. Carol was on the Board serving as Vice President from 2018-2021. While in the workforce, Carol primarily worked in Human Resources in various positions in the Bay area. In September 2017, she received priest ordination by Sojun Mel Weitsman as Shiken Seigetsu – Intention Clear, Serene Moon.  She served as Shuso in Spring 2019 and received Dharma Transmission from Hozan Alan Senauke in 2024.

read more about Carol

Laurie Senauke

Kosei Nyokai (Radiant Vow Ocean of Suchness)
lauriesenauke@gmail.com

Laurie Senauke has been a resident at BZC since 1989.  She was a lay teacher here for many years, and then in 2018 she ordained as a priest with Steve Weintraub, and received dharma transmission from him in 2021.  She is married to our abbot, Hozan Alan Senauke, who has been on medical leave since a health crisis last December. She and Hozan raised two children here, and Laurie has held a number of positions over the years, including Treasurer, Coordinator, and Manager of Family Programs. She is currently the Co-Tanto.

read more about Laurie

Karen Karen Sundheim

Kisei Nyokai (Radiant Vow Ocean of Suchness)
ksundheim@gmail.com

Karen has practiced at the Berkeley Zen Center since 1976. In addition, from 1978 to 1993 she studied Tibetan Buddhism with Choygam Trungpa Rinpoche and Vipassana meditation with Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield. She received Lay Ordination at BZC in 1996, was Shuso in 2006, and received Lay Entrustment from Sojun Roshi in 2010. During her nearly 44 years at BZC she has held many practice positions, including Sesshin Director, Tenzo, and Librarian. She currently leads a dharma study group and teaches Dharma in prisons and libraries. She worked for many years at the San Francisco Public Library, where she was Program Manager of the James C. Hormel LGBT Center. She lives with her wife Nancy and and cat Bella in Oakland.

read more about Karen

Andrea Thach

Yakuso Ryushin (Healing Source / Dragon Heart
andrea.thach@gmail.com)

Andrea began formal practice in 1994 in the Vipassana tradition. In 1997 she joined a Buddhist Peace Fellowship program for socially engaged study and practice and met Kushin Maylie Scott, who became her first teacher and lay ordained her in 2000. Andrea has practiced at BZC since 1999, was ordained in 2005, was shuso in 2009 and received dharma transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman in 2015. She also has studied with Shohaku Okumura for many years. After a rewarding “post transmission fellowship” at Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham, WA, she returned in 2019 to continue practice at her home temple and medical practice in the communities she loves. She is currently BZC class coordinator.
read more about Andrea

Penelope Thompson

Luminous Heart
penelopethompson9@gmail.com

Penelope has been a practicing Buddhist since 1987; her first teacher was Thich Nhat Hanh, with whom she studied in Plum Village, France and she attended many of his US retreats. She is a member of his Order of Interbeing. She led a sangha in Los Angeles for 10 years; at the same time, she participated in a traveling sangha for 9 years, studying with Spirit Rock teachers. In 2000, she joined the Zen Center of Los Angeles(ZCLA) and studied with Roshi Egyoku Nakao. She was a resident member for 11 years and served many positions. She was shuso in 2009 for a year. She moved to the East Bay in 2016, joined BZC, where she serves on the Membership and HEAR committees. She is a retired clinical psychologist and hospice chaplain. Currently she sings in a Threshold choir, at bedsides for terminally ill persons. She has one grown daughter, who lives in Berkeley. She is a poet and a lover of poetry.

read more about Penelope

Ellen Webb

Maiko Kashin (Dancing Light, Open Heart)
elweb@sbcglobal.net


Ellen Webb was born and raised in Berkeley and has been a dancer, choreographer and teacher for most of her life. She founded the Ellen Webb Dance Company in New York City in 1979 and continued to choreograph and perform with her company after she moved to the Bay Area in 1984.  She lives with her husband in Oakland where they raised their two children.  Ellen began her Zen practice with Joko Beck and Diane Rizzeto at the Bay Zen Center in 1992. In 2002 she began practicing at BZC. She received lay ordination from Sojun Roshi in 2010 and was the Shuso in 2018. Her Dharma name is Maiko Kashin, “Dancing Light, Open Heart.”

read more about Ellen