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10: Yaakov Kaplan

07/12/2019 03:00:45 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

Every startup Rabbi needs one meshuggana to prod him along.

At the Forest Hill Jewish Centre, we were blessed with the best.

Everyone who knows the FHJC should also know that the Kaplans are our not-so-secret special sauce, which keeps the engine running and performing. 

I met Yaakov and Julie Kaplan 23 years ago, at my wedding. But the connection started well before then. 

Often, when Yaakov’s grandfather Joe Tanenbaum OB”M would visit the Ohr Somayach in Zichron Yaakov, he’d stay with my in-laws. And when Joe built the BAYT in Thornhill, my father-in-law moved from Israel to design it.

In fact, we have a great pic of a very cute Rebbetzin Rifky, just a few years old, being held by Joe.

So, for Yaakov and I and Rifky and Julie to partner as we did wasn’t so far-fetched.

For me, what’s so special is their devotion: for over 20 years now, Yaakov has been teaching here at 6 a.m., and also attending meetings and hosting parties.

(I often call him “hon” when I mistakenly call him instead of Rifky.) 

You’d think that Yaakov has a lot of time on his hands. But that’s what makes the story even more special. The Kaplans are involved with the Yerushalayim campus, and local causes.

As a result, their house is always busy, welcoming more guests and community events than some shuls, something which they handle with grace and class. 

It’s said that if you want something done, ask a busy person. And seeing what the Kaplans have done for over two decades has convinced me that’s true.

May their special sauce stay fresh—and continue to nourish Jewish neshamas for years to come. 

Sun, March 3 2024 23 Adar I 5784