Karen Kaplan was our speaker today and she shared the remarkable, heartbreaking story of her father as well as her own journey towards forgiveness.  She is the author of Decendents of Rajgrod: Learning to Forgive.  
 
In addition to our speaker Karen Kaplan, we welcomed home our District Governor Rodney Adams!  Rod has been pounding the pavement visiting every club in the district, a quest he expect to complete before the end of the year.  
 
Rodney gave a quick summary of the Rotary Summit held October 23rd.  This was a new conference this year, seeking to focus the content to ensure all the attendees walked away motivated and more knowledgeable.  The trade-off, of course is that there are several topics that normally get covered during the fall conference that were not this time around. Chief among them is the grant writing workshop.  There will be a special meeting for that on February 6th so all the clubs can learn about any updates and changes to Rotary's grant process.  
 
Our annual Holiday Concert will be December 7th.  The orchestra from MacArthur will play during our lunch and we're all encouraged to bring guests.  Please let Brian know how many folks you're brining by December 3rd.  
 
Karen Kaplan was our speaker today and she shared the remarkable, heartbreaking story of her father as well as her own journey towards forgiveness.  She is the author of Decendents of Rajgrod: Learning to Forgive.  
 
Karen's father was born in Rajgrod, Poland and was a sixteen when the Nazis invaded his town.  He ran into the forest and survived, but he witnessed the massacre of hundreds of the town's Jewish population, including his own mother and sisters. The town's Polish population was forced to line the streets and sing as the Jews were marched to their deaths. Karen told us that those Jews who weren't killed that day were eventually sent to Triblinka. 
 
Karen's father survived in the woods for three years before making his way to Hamburg after the war and then Chicago.  Although he married in 1951, started a family and worked as a social worker, he held on to the anger he felt in Rajgrod for his entire life.  He was abusive to his wife and children, was never able to experience joy.  This trauma heavily influenced Karen and her two brothers as they grew up -giving them their own anger that they were forced to struggle with.  
 
Karen started seeing a therapist who convinced her of the need to forgive her father for the pain he inflicted upon her.  The Jewish and Christian faith treat forgiveness differently and Karen struggled with truly forgiving her father.  It was only when he was on his death bed that Karen felt the compassion necessary to forgive.  Unfortunately, her oldest brother wasn't able to follow her example and never reconciled with his father.  
 
In 2013, her capacity to forgive was put to the ultimate test when her home was invaded by three men with guns while she and her children slept.  They bound and gagged her and her son before moving towards her daughter's bedroom.  Fortunately, her daughter was wakened by the commotion and called 911.  When the burglars realized this, they fled the scene.  Despite an extensive manhunt and investigation, no one was ever arrested for this crime.  Although traumatized by the experienced, Karen realized that she couldn't let the anger and frustration of the event, including the lack of arrests, have a lasting effect on her.  So she moved to Highland Park and worked to forgive her assailants.  While she still hopes for their arrest and prosecution, she has found peace.  
 

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