Psychology Today had an article written by substance abuse councilor, Carole Bennett. She reveals a father’s rare reaction to losing his son to a drunk driver. This father is Rabbi Gross-Schafer. Her article recounts the tragic story of Gross-Schafer and his decision to focus on the continuation of life rather than remain fixed on death. Where most individuals would harbor hatred, anger and bitterness after such a tragedy, Gross-Schafer sought out hope, peace and forgiveness. He claims the horrible experience strengthened his relationship to God and to the members of his community and explains that the incident produced a deep grief within him that gives him a greater capacity to help others experiencing such misery. Rather than seeking revenge, Gross-Schafer not only chose to forgive the drunk driver but aid him in reestablishing his life.
Rabbi Gross-Schafer’s son, Avi Schafer was killed by a drunk driver while walking near campus on February 12, 2010. Gross-Schafer confesses the news brought a deep grief that was beyond word. Though faced with the natural feelings accompanying a loss such as rage, retribution and grief, he and his family made the important decision to promote Avi’s memory by focusing on his life rather than his death. They chose to remember Avi as their beloved son rather than a victim.
The Rabbi remarkably displays his great respect for human life while dealing with his son’s killer. In choosing to forgive the driver, he chose a path that would restore life. Through this forgiveness he allowed the driver to find redemption. The Rabbi explains that in order to truly change, the driver must embark on a journey of mind and soul. Through this journey the life of the driver will be restored as he learns to forgive himself and accept redemption. This process of redemption will render the driver a new person who better understands the consequences of his actions.