Outdoor group photo after a cermony
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Who We Are

For over 50 years, the Rochester Zen Center has thrived, becoming one of the largest and most respected Buddhist centers in North America. The Center has members and affiliated groups throughout the United States and in Europe, Mexico, and New Zealand. Through its daily meditation services, residential training program, and introductory workshops, the Center has helped introduce Buddhism into the American mainstream, while simultaneously reshaping and integrating the forms of Zen into America’s own unique culture. 

Photo of Sensei Pulleyn

Sensei John Pulleyn

Sensei John Pulleyn is a Co-Director of the Rochester Zen Center. Together with Sensei Donna Kowal, he provides Zen training and spiritual guidance to the Center’s members worldwide. Read more "on Sensei John Pulleyn"

Photo of Sensei Kowal

Sensei Donna Kowal

Sensei Donna Kowal was authorized as a Zen teacher by Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede in 2022 and serves as Co-Director of the Rochester Zen Center, in partnership with Sensei John Pulleyn. Read more "on Sensei Donna Kowal"

Photo of Roshi Kjolhede

Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede

Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede is Dharma successor to Roshi Phillip Kapleau. He served as Abbot of the Rochester Zen Center from 1986 to 2021 and then Co-Director with Sensei John Pulleyn through 2022. He remains active in the Center from afar, leading many morning Zoom sittings and conducting occasional sesshins. Read more "on Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede"

Photo of Eryl Kubicka

Eryl Kubicka

Eryl Kubicka has been practicing Buddhism since 1969. In addition to offering Private Instruction and running sesshin, she is a longtime engaged Buddhist, e.g., serving in our Prison Dharma meditation program. Read more "on Eryl Kubica"

Photo of Trueman Taylor

Ven. Trueman Taylor

Trueman Taylor is a longtime student of Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede and was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in 2008. As well as offering Private Instruction, he also leads sesshin and serves as the Center's Head of Zendo. Read more "on Trueman Taylor"

Photo of Jissai Prince-Cherry

Ven. Jissai Prince-Cherry

Jissai Prince-Cherry is the Group Leader of the Louisville Zen Center. She works closely with her teacher, Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede offers Private Instruction, and leads sesshin. In 2022, she was ordained as a Zen Buddhist Priest. Read more "on Jissai Prince-Cherry"

Photo of Rick Smith

Rick Smith

Rick Smith is the Group Leader of the Madison Zen Center and has been authorized to give private instruction and lead sesshins. He is also a researcher at UW-Madison exploring various effects of meditation. Read more "on Rick Smith"

Photo of Susan Rakow

Susan Rakow

Susan Rakow is the Group Leader of the Cleveland Zazen Group, a position she has held for over 40 years. Susan began practicing in 1968 under her root teacher, Roshi Philip Kapleau. She also facilitates the Center's monthly Parent Practice group on Zoom. Read more "on Susan Rakow"

Photo of Buddha's Birthday

Community

Being part of the Sangha (Community) plays an important role in Zen, as we strive to support one another in the journey of practice. In addition to a robust schedule of sittings and retreats, there's an ever-changing array of social activities. Read more "about our community"

Photo of RZC's founding group

Our History

The history of the Rochester Zen Center begins overseas with the Nuremberg and Tokyo War Crimes Trials at the close of World War II. Read about our start

Photo of Roshi Kapleau

Roshi Philip Kapleau

Philip Kapleau was one of the founding fathers of American Zen. He made it his life’s work to transplant Zen Buddhism into American soil, bridging the gap between theory and practice and making Zen Buddhism accessible to all. In 1966 he published The Three Pillars of Zen, the first book to explain the practice of Zen to Westerners. Read more "on Roshi Philip Kapleau"

Photo of Roshi Kapleau prostrating before Yasutani Roshi

Roshi Kapleau & His Teachers

An in-depth look at Dharma transmission and the Rochester Zen Center lineage. Read more "on Roshi Kapleau and His Teachers"

Header photo by Jon Cherry