In November 2004 Carol Hymen came to San Quentin part time as the Jewish Chaplain. She brings to her duties a background of institutional work, first at Napa Hospital, and then CMF and Solano. She now has a Master of Divinity from Graduate Theology University in Berkeley, and continues work on her Doctorate in Ministry. When asked why her interests had taken her in this direction, she spoke of intense desire to see people change in the life’s path.
“Teshuvah” is the Hebrew word, for the process of repentance. Rabbi Hymen says, “I seek a balance of being honest about the past in a factual way, while living under the circumstance in which they find themselves.” She recognizes that many who come to her are facing very difficult issues, and many have sunk into deep despair. Her focus is in helping them to find a balance without trying to justify mistakes made.
Rabbi Hymen’s goals for the future are to improve the San Quentin image of being a place where redemption can and does take place. She sees her duties as a chaplain and a rabbi as being over a single congregation rather than each being isolated from the others. “They have a sense of being part of a larger whole,” she says. Whether it’s Death Row, Reception Center, or the Mainline, she intends that each one see themselves included.
“This is my vocation,” Rabbi Hymen says, “and I’m in the right place.”
The refining pot is for silver
and the furnace for gold, but
the Lord tests the hearts.