Select Kaplan Miscellany

Here are some Kaplan stories and accounts over the years:

Kaplans in America by Country of Origin

German lands

Hirsch Kaplan and the New England Hebrew Farmers

Hirsch Kaplan had arrived in New York with his large family in 1887.  A whiskey dealer back in his native Ukraine, he had studied at the famous Bialystok Yeshiva and was considered an unordained rabbi.  Once in New York, he began to organize a small group of Russian immigrant Jews under his religious leadership at his home in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn. 

Discontent with life in Brooklyn and having heard of inexpensive Yankee farmland in Connecticut, Kaplan and his group made their way to Chesterfield, Connecticut where they purchased farms.  They also established there a cottage garment industry where garment piecework was stitched together and returned to New York clothing manufacturers. 

A Jewish fund contributed money for a synagogue and a creamery and the group renamed themselves The New England Hebrew Farmers Creamery Association in 1892.  Hirschís son John later ran a general store and dance hall for the community.

Stanley Kaplan and the SAT's

Stanley Kaplan was born in New York City in 1919 and grew up in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn.  He graduated from City College and started his tutoring business in the basement of his parents' home. 

Rejected from medical school, he believed that students should have access to higher education based on academic merit, rather than on privilege. In the 1940ís he embraced the SAT and other admissions tests as opportunities for students to prove themselves in the admissions process and dedicated his career to helping students excel on these important exams. 

By the 1960ís, as admissions tests for graduate schools came into widespread use, he expanded his classes to serve students preparing for law school, business school and medical school.  When he discovered that one of his students was flying from the University of California at Berkeley to attend his classes in New York, he expanded nationally.  By 1975, Mr. Kaplan had opened test preparation centers in 23 cities from coast to coast. 

Among his many accomplishments was the recognition that, contrary to test makers' claims, preparation from companies such as Kaplan could in fact improve students' scores on the SAT and other admissions tests. The Federal Trade Commission came to such a conclusion in 1975 after a thorough investigation of Kaplan's business practices.

Joel Kaplan's Escape

Joel Kaplan, the nephew of business magnate Jacob Kaplan, had been involved in a number of shady business dealings in Mexico, working with a business partner named Luis Vidal.  Vidal disappeared from a Mexico City hotel in 1961 and was presumed murdered.  Joel Kaplan was arrested for his murder and, after a lengthy delay, was tried and convicted. 

He spent nine years in the Santa Marta Acatitla prison before his sister tried to get him out through bribery, but to no avail.  Then came the daring and brilliantly engineered rescue plan.  On August 18, 1971 Kaplan
was plucked from behind the walls of the heavily guarded prison, transferred to a light plane, then flown across the U.S. border to the safety of an unknown hideout. 

The wild rescue was the basis for a best-selling book The 10-Second Breakout and the movie Breakout starring John Huston, Robert Duvall and Charles Bronson.

David Kaplan Who Survived the Nazi Death Camps

Researchers estimate that over that 80 per cent of the Lithuanian Jews were killed prior to January 1942. The remaining Jews were sent off to camps in Stutthof, Dachau, and Auschwitz.  Only about 2-3,000 Lithuanian Jews survived to be liberated from these camps at the end of the war.  David Kaplan was one of the lucky ones. 

At the time of the Nazi occupation, David was eleven years old and living upstairs from his fatherís tailor shop in Kaunas.  The family was soon moved from this home to a single room lacking water or plumbing in the newly-created Jewish ghetto.  Eventually, the ghetto was eradicated and the survivors were sent to the death camps. 

One morning, Kaplan, then 13, was working in the shoe shop when he saw several red buses with white paint covered windows enter the compound.  He watched silently as the children in the barracks were rounded up by the guards and herded onto the buses, kicking, yelling and crying.  Kaplan stayed hidden in the shoe shop and was spared.  The children that were taken were never seen again. 

David Kaplan survived four years in the Nazi concentration camps.  After Dachau was liberated in April 1945, he was able to reach a resettlement office and received permission to be resettled in St. Charles, Missouri.  However, en route, his destination was changed to El Paso.  The boy who had his family torn from him has now been married for 60 years in El Paso and has a large extended family there.

Return to Top of Page
Return to Kaplan Main Page