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San Rafael>Forgiveness Day

Sunday, August 03, 2008
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
7 p.m. Sunday at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael.

Osher Marin Jewish Community Center
Place where people can enhance their lives through various activities that reflect the unique values of Jewish history and culture. - Cached

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Four women honored as 'heroes of forgiveness'
Beth Ashley
OJ Article Launched: 07/29/2008 04:11:01 PM PDT

Click photo to enlarge
Jaimee Karroll is one of four women who will be honored Sunday on... (Provided by Nancy Mullane)

It took Jaimee Karroll 21 years to forgive the three men who kidnapped and repeatedly raped her when she was 9.

For two decades, she suppressed the experience, expressing it in combativeness, high-risk behavior, heavy drinking, attempted suicide.

"There was a huge disconnect with the person I showed on the outside and the person who suffered inside," Karroll says.

When she realized her self-destructive behavior was hurting her husband and others she loved, Karroll asked for their forgiveness.

"And then I realized it was hypocritical of me to expect their forgiveness if I could not forgive those who hurt me."

A newly peaceful Karroll, 54, of El Cerrito, now uses her experience to counsel violent offenders at San Quentin State Prison, helping them understand the impact of their crimes and to bring about reconciliation between inmates and survivors.

She is one of four women who will be honored as "Heroes of Forgiveness" at the 12th annual International Forgiveness Day event set for 7 p.m. Sunday at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael.

The event is the brainchild of Mill Valley attorney Robert Plath, who promotes the day worldwide and sees it as part of a movement to promote peace, reconciliation and healing. Practicing forgiveness, he says, has made him healthier, happier and more complete: "It doesn't cost anything, and it's better than any medicine."

He quotes Bishop Desmond Tutu: "Without forgiveness, there is no future." And Gerald
Jampolsky of Tiburon of the Center for Attitudinal Healing: "Forgiveness is the greatest healer of them all."

Others to be honored:

- Eva Kor, 74, of Terre Haute, Ind., who was taken at age 10 from her home in Eastern Romania to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, where she and her twin sister were subject to a year of medical experiments at the hands of the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. In 1995, at Auschwitz, she read aloud a document forgiving Mengele and his assistants. "For the first time, I felt completely free."

- Julie Chimes, 53, of Granada, Spain, who was attacked by a mentally ill, knife-wielding woman in Chimes' London home in 1986 and - despite grievous injuries - forgave her assailant, saying, "no one was to blame." Today, Chimes runs retreats and workshops in Europe designed to help others find the courage to forgive.

"This inner place of forgiveness and peace is available to everyone," she says.

- Attorney Nadia Bishop of Oakland, 39, whose father, Maurice Bishop, the former prime minister of Grenada, was killed in a 1983 coup. After 24 years of anger, she visited 10 men convicted of her father's slaying and publicly announced her forgiveness. She told her countrymen that only through forgiveness can Grenada move forward.

The four honorees will tell their stories at Sunday's event, which also will feature a musical performance by the East Bay International Mass Choir.

Kor will relive her months in Auschwitz, where both her parents and two older sisters died in the gas chambers.

She and her twin sister lived in a wooden barracks, inspected each morning by Mengele, whom she described as "very elegant," cool, movie-star handsome. Three times a week, she and her sister were given a minimum of five injections. "We didn't know then, we don't know today, what was in them," Kor says. Once, she became so ill she had to crawl across the barracks floor.

After the Soviet army liberated the camp in 1945, Kor spent time in refugee centers in Europe before moving to Israel. She met and married an American tourist in Tel Aviv and moved to the United States in 1960.

Almost half a century later, she was befriended by a former Nazi who had seen the death chambers in action. In time, she discovered the balm of forgiveness.

"I discovered for myself I had the power to forgive," Kor says. "No one could take it from me. It became a gift to myself as well, because I realized I was not a powerless victim.

"I became free. I remain free. I will never again be a victim."

Jaimee Karroll's ordeal of rape and torture took place in the San Fernando Valley, where she was traumatized for 10 hours before she could escape.

As a college student, Karroll began a career as a performer - singing and playing guitar - but abandoned it years later to focus on recovery from her childhood ordeal.

She began her prison work with a lecture at Solano State Prison. She has since lectured at several other prisons including Soledad and San Quentin, and a year ago began an intensive class - two hours a week for 25 weeks - at San Quentin. Recently, she played guitar again, singing to another group of inmates being counseled by Jacques Verduin of the Insight Prison Project.

Karroll's work with violent offenders has facilitated her healing.

"When I meet with people trying so hard to transform themselves, it gives me great hope."


International Forgiveness Day honorees will conduct a workshop in forgiveness from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church at Camino Alto at Sycamore Avenue in Mill Valley. Suggested donation is $55. Register online at four will be honored at the International Forgiveness Day event at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center at 200 N. San Pedro Road in San Rafael. Suggested donation is $20; no one will be turned away.

Read more San Rafael stories at the IJ's San Rafael section.

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Added to the calendar on Sat, Aug 2, 2008 1:22PM
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