Buried River Cover

In 2005, on a German train, Ellen Korman Mains felt the presence of beings who had died in the Holocaust. Their question, “How can you still believe in basic goodness,” sent her on a series of life-changing journeys to Poland to find the answer.

“. . . provides a fresh take not only on the Holocaust, but also the proper response to the seemingly inerasable stain left by profound anguish . . . A moving and original contribution to an inexhaustible body of literature” −Kirkus Reviews

“This book reflects the power of inquiry in a world riven with suffering, and the capacity to transform that suffering into wisdom.” Rev. Joan Jiko Halifax, Upaya Zen Center, author of Standing at the Edge

“A rich prose journey into the author’s ancestral homeland where she unearths her Jewish family’s trauma legacy. . . An important memoir that uplifts as much as it compels.” Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, PhD, author of Wounds into Wisdom: Healing Intergenerational Jewish Trauma

Winner of Four Awards Including:

Silver Nautilus Book Award
Independent Publisher Bronze Medal
Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist
Best Book Awards Finalist

BBA Finalist Award




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Buried Rivers Video

For Book Clubs

Buried Rivers provides its readers with an important inner template for recovering lost meaning. Its relevance extends not only to the Holocaust, but to anyone affected by trauma or who wishes to recover missing pieces of their family history. Download a free Discussion Guide here.

Read excerpts about visits to Auschwitz and the Bearing Witness Retreat I attended with Zen Peacemakers Bernie Glassman Sensei, Rabbi Ohad Ezrahi and others.

Read a Review

Read an Excerpt


The story begins on a train in Germany, in January of 2005. Read the opening pages here.


Read excerpts about visits to Auschwitz and the Bearing Witness Retreat I attended with Zen Peacemakers Bernie Glassman Sensei, Rabbi Ohad Ezrahi and others.

Star of David

My memoir describes the research I did, not only on-line and in Polish archives housing physical documents, but also in hidden archives of the heart.


In one of the final chapters, interesting conversations and questions arise when I visit a Catholic hermitage near Kielce and befriend its junior priest.

More Praise for "Buried Rivers"

“Deepening insights culled from years of Buddhist contemplative practice, and courageously assembling the puzzle pieces of her family’s past, the author shares a colorful and revealing picture of contemporary life in post-Communist Poland and her own inner life. An intimate and illuminating memoir that depicts how trusting in the spontaneous wisdom of one’s own body and heart can heal intergenerational trauma.” −David I. Rome, Founder of Mindful Focusing and author of Your Body Knows the Answer

“A compelling personal spiritual journey that crosses religious boundaries to tackle some of the deepest mysteries of life and death. Revealing how the past, present, and future intersect in the very cells of our bodies, Buried Rivers shows how to more fully discover spiritual truth and personal healing through the conscious meeting of our ancestors in the here and now.” −Zvi Ish-Shalom, Ph.D., Founder of the Kedumah Institute and author of The Kedumah Experience: The Primordial Torah

“Part memoir, part spiritual chronicle, Buried Rivers takes the reader on a journey into our most pressing real-life questions about good and evil. This Buddhist reflection on the intimate legacy of the Holocaust is a riveting page-turner.” −Judith Simmer-Brown, Ph.D.,Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies, Naropa University and author of Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism

“What makes the author’s venture so remarkable is the haunting question that accompanies her and a deep conviction in the human disposition for goodness. By shedding light on something so dark, the author demonstrates that healing, opportunity, and magic can emerge from the densest suffering.” −Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel, author of The Logic of Faith and The Power of an Open Question

“An evocative and deeply spiritual book about a journey through space and time that also unfolds into a mystery about how the body carries and receives messages from the past. Read this and be prepared to think about your own ancestors in a new way.” –Sonya Huber, author of Opa Nobody and Pain Woman Takes Your Keys

“A wise and deeply stirring memoir that takes the reader on a powerful journey of body, mind, and heart.” –Lama Tsultrim Allione, author of Wisdom Rising: Journey into the Mandala of the Empowered Feminine