Chayat, Sherry 1943- (Roko Sherry Chayat)

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Chayat, Sherry 1943- (Roko Sherry Chayat)


Born October 2, 1943, in New York, NY; daughter of Leonard Corlan (a soldier) and Sylvia Chayat; married Louis Nordstrom, September 2, 1967 (deceased, 1979); married Bruce Andrew Hassinger (an artist and counselor), November 11, 1979; children: Jesse Leonard. Ethnicity: "Caucasian/Russian Jew." Education: Attended New York Studio School and Zen Studies Society; Vassar College, B.A., 1965. Politics: "Liberal democrat/socialist." Religion: Buddhist. Hobbies and other interests: Music, art, dance.


Home—Syracuse, NY. Office—Zen Center of Syracuse, 266 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse, NY 13207.


Zen instructor. Fully ordained Dharma teacher of the Rinzai tradition, 1992; Zen Center of Syracuse, Syracuse, NY, abbot, 1978—. Has also worked as an art critic, writer, editor, art consultant, juror, and curator; founding board member of Millay Colony for the Fine Arts and Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, 1970s-1990s; Adanfo Drum Troupe, 2000—.


Council of Faith Leaders of the InterReligious Council of Central New York.


Life Lessons: The Art of Jerome Witkin, foreword by Kenneth Baker, Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 1994, 2nd edition, 2006.

(Compiler and translator, with Kazuaki Tanahashi) Endless Vow: The Zen Path of Soen Nakagawa, introduction by Eido Tai Shimano, Shambhala (Boston, MA), 1996.

(Editor and author of introduction) Maurine Stuart, Subtle Sound: The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart, foreword by Edward Espe Brown, Shambhala (Boston, MA), 1996.

Contributor to periodicals, including Buddhadharma, Shambhala Sun, Tricycle, Sculpture Magazine, ARTnews, American Ceramics, Present Tense, and Lilith.


Sherry Chayat is an American Zen instructor. Chayat began studying Buddhism in the 1960s on her own and later began Zen practice in 1967 after completing her academic studies. She took her Zen studies seriously and became a fully ordained Dharma teacher of the Rinzai tradition in 1992. She has had close association with the Zen Center of Syracuse since 1978.

Chayat published her first book, Life Lessons: The Art of Jerome Witkin, in 1994. The book, which includes a foreword by Kenneth Baker, presents a personal portrait of the postmodern figurative painter Jerome Witkin. Forty color plates of his work from 1975 to 2003 are also included. A second edition was published in 2006.

In 1996 Chayat compiled and translated Endless Vow: The Zen Path of Soen Nakagawa with Kazuaki Tanahashi. Including an introduction by Eido Tai Shimano, the book looks into the life of Soen Nakagawa, considered to be among the most influential Renzai Zen masters. The book's primary focus is his private poetry, primarily haiku. A contributor to Publishers Weekly described the account as "an integral book for" anyone looking into the historical background of Soen Roshi's life and his transmission of Zen to the United States. However, the contributor commented that "it is a must for serious students of Zen."

Also published that year is Subtle Sound: The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart. Chayat edited the account and wrote the introduction of the book on the teachings of Maurine Stuart. The account includes a foreword by Edward Espe Brown.

Sherry Chayat told CA: "I've been writing for as long as I can remember—poetry as a child and continuing throughout adulthood (presently write in haiku form). I was a creative writing major at Vassar College from 1961-65, and also spent many hours a day in painting studios. I became a protégé of famous professors there in the fine arts department, including Linda Nochlin (who wrote the landmark tongue-in-cheek essay called "Why Have There Been No Famous Women Artists?" for Art News). It was she who suggested, based on my written work in classes, that I do art criticism for Art News.

"From there I continued to write on art for twenty-five-plus years. I had my own art column in Sunday StarsMagazine of Syracuse newspapers for twenty years. I have written monographs and special features on artists, musicians, and dancers over the years.

"I began editing Zen masters' writings in the 1970s and continued through the 1990s, putting out two books and also writing my own book on the artist Jerome Witkin."



American Artist, May 1994, review of Life Lessons: The Art of Jerome Witkin, p. 76.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, December, 1994, S.L. Jenkins, review of Life Lessons, p. 585.

Library Journal, June 1, 1994, David McClelland, review of Life Lessons, p. 102.

Publishers Weekly, May 13, 1996, review of Endless Vow: The Zen Path of Soen Nakagawa, p. 69.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 1994, review of Life Lessons, p. 37; May, 2006, review of Life Lessons, 2nd edition.


Zen Center of Syracuse Web site, (February 20, 2008), author profile.

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Chayat, Sherry 1943- (Roko Sherry Chayat)

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