Reirin Gumbel
Resident Priest

Reirin Alheidis Gumbel comes to Milwaukee Zen Center from the Shunryu Suzuki lineage of Soto Zen. She received ordination from Furyu Nancy Schroeder in 2007 at Green Dragon Temple of San Francisco Zen Center, and was head student there for the spring practice period in 2012. Before becoming a resident at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in 2003, she was lay-ordained in 1993 by Tenshin Reb Anderson and practiced as a lay student at the Santa Cruz Zen Center. Her positions at GGF included guest manager(shika), head of the kitchen(tenzo), and head of the zendo(ino).

During her years at Green Gulch, Reirin headed the Sunday children’s program, and was mentor for the coming-of-age program. She served as secretary on the board of the Marin Interfaith Council, and has for many years held correspondence with various prison inmates. Prior to her monk training, Reirin owned a fiber arts business in Santa Cruz, where she taught countless children and adults to enjoy their creativity. During that time she raised two daughters.

Born in Germany, Reirin studied music and English and became a high school teacher there. She also completed the Waldorf teacher training in England.

Tonen O'Connor
Resident Priest Emerita

Tonen O’Connor was ordained by Tozen Akiyama in 1994 and received dharma transmission in 1999. She has led the MZC’s prison program since 1998 and served as resident priest 2001-2011. Tonen practiced at Shogoji, Hosshinji and Hokyoji in Japan and attended numerous American sesshins, including 9 summers as co-leader of the Great Sky Sesshin. She edited Buddhas Behind Bars, translated Kodo Sawaki’s Commentary on the Song of Awakening, has an essay in The Hidden Lamp and articles in Ancient Way. Tonen was President of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and is a member of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Religious Practices Advisory Committee.

Tozen Akiyama
Resident Priest Emerita

Tozen Akiyama was ordained by Reiyu Tamiya Roshi in 1977 and later received dharma transmission.  He trained at Daieiji Monastery from 1977 to 1978.  He has lived in the United States since 1979, when he started working at Zenshuji Soto Mission in Los Angeles.  He moved to Wisconsin and became the resident priest of the Milwaukee Zen Center in 1985.  In 2001 he became the head of the Anchorage Zen Community and retired in 2006.  The Japanese Soto School held its first and second 90-day Overseas Training Monastery sessions from September to December 2007 and 2008, both in France.  Tozen was the Dokan, or Overseer, in both training periods. 

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Rev. Yoki Shudo Paula Lazarz
Visiting Resident Priest (Aug 27 - Sept 27, 2018)

Rev. Yoki Shudo Paula Lazarz began her Soto Zen training in 2010 under Taigen Dan Leighton with periodic intensive study at San Francisco Zen Center's affiliated temples.  She was priest ordained by Taigen in February, 2016. 

Paula originally came to Zen practice to deepen her understanding of martial arts. A 5th-degree Black Sash in Northern Shaolin Long Fist, Paula studies common threads in the physicality, concentration practices, and Temple traditions of Soto Zen, Shaolin Kung Fu, and other Chinese martial arts, and is an authorized teacher with her own martial arts studio in Chicago.

She currently serves as Tenzo and Board Secretary at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate.