About Karen L. Kaplan

karen kaplanKaren L. Kaplan  was born and raised in West Rogers Park, a Jewish neighborhood on the north side of Chicago. She received her B.A. from the University of Illinois in Chicago in Nutrition and Medical Dietetics. She also trained at The Claret Center of Hyde Park, Il. for a certificate as a Spiritual Director. Karen maintained a private practice and lectured for many years throughout the Chicago metropolitan area on general health, weight loss, and spirituality, in medical practices, high schools, churches, synagogues, community centers and health clubs.

Her father, Arie Kaplan, was trapped by fear and saddled with bitterness throughout his adult life. He survived the Holocaust by living in the forests and managed to make his way to the states after the war.  He educated himself, married a beautiful nineteen year old and had three accomplished children. Because he never forgot the deprivation and struggles of his youth in Poland and lived as though the Nazis could return at any moment, he suffered and caused suffering until the day he died.

As her father’s health was declining, Karen began to realize that she hadn’t yet overcome a chaotic childhood filled with physical abuse, medical deprivation and paranoia. She began to understand that she must make a decision to either continue the lineage of victimhood, resentment and hatred or move forward with compassion and forgiveness toward her father and towards the phantom ghosts that have continued to haunt many in her tribe.

Karen’s decision to forgive her father led her to visit Poland, once home to one of the world’s largest Jewish communities. She saw the death camp of Auschwitz and the desolate Jewish neighborhoods of Krakow, Warsaw and Bialystok. Finally in Rajgród, her father’s village, she happened upon an old woman who remembered her grandmother and was able to tell stories about life before and during the war. As she stood outside her father’s childhood home on the very spot where he witnessed the barbaric murder of his mother and sisters, something happened to Karen. She began sobbing, and didn’t stop until she realized that she needed to completely change her way of thinking.  She felt compelled to forgive all who collaborated to murder six million Jews including her father’s family. It was a necessary step towards her healing.

She drove to the abandoned Jewish cemetery of Rajgród and… Continue…

  • Rook Reviews

    January 2016     Herbert Quelle,  German Consul General “Karen Kaplan’s memoir “Descendants of Rajgród”  has moved me deeply. The author permits an intimate insight into her soul and the psychological burden that she has carried along as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. She freely shares her family story, especially the difficult relationship with her ...more

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