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Yisrael Mendel Kaplan

Yisrael Mendel Kaplan
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For other possible meanings see Kaplan (disambiguation)
Rabbi Israel Mendel Kaplan[1] or Yisrael Mendel Kaplan (April 14, 1913
– April 4, 1985), known as "Reb Mendel" served as a teacher in the
Hebrew Theological College in Chicago and in the Philadelphia Yeshiva
to many of the men who were to become the leaders of Orthodox American

Contents [hide]
1 Biography
1.1 Early life
1.2 Marriage and children
1.3 Escape from the Nazis
1.4 Chicago
1.5 Philadelphia
2 Works
3 References


] Biography

Early life
Yisrael Mendel Kaplan was born in 1913 in Baranovich, Poland (now
Baranowicze, Belarus) to Avraham and Esther Kaplan. Avraham was a
lawyer and Esther was involved in community service: Raising funds for
the Yeshiva, feeding the poor and so forth.

After his bar mitzva, he was enrolled in the yeshiva of Rabbi Elchonon
Wasserman. He was considered a very promising student and was assigned
Wasserman's son, Naftali, as a study partner. He later studied in the
Mir yeshiva as well.

Marriage and children
While studying in Mir, he married Sarah Baila Gutman (b. Navahrudak,
1910 - d. New York City, March 12, 2008 ), the daughter of Rabbi Tzvi
Hirsch Gutman, the administrator of the yeshiva in Baranowicze. When
Rabbi Gutman was looking for a match, he asked Rabbi Elchonon
Wasserman about a number of prospects. Rabbi Wasserman recommended
Kaplan. When Rabbi Gutman pressed him "Isn't your own son, Naftoli, a
little better?" Rabbi Wasserman answered "My Naftoli is a good boy,
but he doesn't measure up to Mendel." (Greenwald 1995:31)

Rabbi Yerucham Kaplan
Tzirel, Wife of Rabbi Haim Benoliel.
Rachel, Wife of Rabbi David Lopian.
Esther Hutner (birthdate ) Wife of Rabbi Shaul Hutner.
Chaim Ozer Kaplan (birthdate – c.1942) Died in Shanghai.
Shimon Kaplan

Escape from the Nazis
In late 1939, the German's Invasion of Poland overtook Poland and the
Jews of Baranovich fled for their lives. Wasserman advised his yeshiva
students to regroup in then-independent Vilna, Lithuania. Kaplan and
his family moved there and Kaplan studied there under Rabbi Yitzchak
Zev Soloveitchik. In June 1940, when the Soviet Union occupied Vilna,
Jewish life became unbearable. Like the members of the Mir yeshiva and
other refugees there, Kaplan sought visas to allow him to escape Nazi
and Soviet rule. He obtained a de facto destination visa from the
Dutch consul but was unable to obtain the necessary transit visa from
Japanese Vice-consul, Chiune Sugihara that would allow his family to
detour through Japan while awaiting some final, true destination.
(Greenwald 1995:38)

The family nevertheless boarded the trains to the Russian port city of
Vladivostok. His son, Chaim Ozer, was born on the train ride. After
entering Japanese territory by boat, Kaplan expected deportation back
to Russia and eventually Siberia. Japanese officials goaded him to
produce any kind of visa and he reluctantly showed them an obviously
tampered Japanese transit visa. Inexplicably, it was stamped and
accepted and the family continued on to Kobe and then later to
Shanghai. (Greenwald 1995:39-40)

His son Shimon was born in Shanghai, while his middle son, Chaim Ozer
grew sick and died there.

Kaplan arrived in America after the war and moved to Chicago, where
his brother, Rabbi Hertzl Kaplan was teaching at the Chicago yeshiva
that was to become the Hebrew Theological College. Rabbi Israel Mendel
Kaplan accepted a teaching position there, though his students were
English-speaking and his English was not yet mastered. He won the
students over by offering to "teach them to read the Chicago Tribune
if they taught him to read English." His insights into world affairs
and reading between the lines of the daily paper (even while needing
help with the language) earned him his student's respect. (Greenwald

When his girls were old enough for high school, his wife moved with
them to Brooklyn New York, so they could attend a Jewish girls high
school in Williamsburg. Kaplan started Kaplan's Winery Corporation,
producing traditional Kosher Concord wine, in an effort to supplement
his income to cover his daughter's tuition costs. (Greenwald 1995:47)

By 1965, Kaplan had joined his family in New York and was invited to
started teaching the first-level post-high school class in the
Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia. He accepted the position, lived in
the dormitory and commuted each weekend to his wife and family in
Brooklyn. He stayed at the school and taught the same level until his
death on April 4, 1985. Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky commented "Ahzah
Kuntz, (What a feat!) He is greater than famous Roshei Yeshiva, and he
can still work quietly under younger men." (Greenwald 1995:48-49)

Nesivei Yam ("Paths of the Sea") - containing novellae on the tractate
Kiddushin (2005).