When Jewish Family Service of Greater Wilkes-Barre told Rabbi Larry Kaplan of Temple Israel Wilkes-Barre that the organization would be honoring him with its annual service award, he quite justifiably could have responded: “it’s about time,” the rabbi and his wife, Gerri, have been tireless servants of the community since moving to Kingston 10 years ago.
The rabbi’s reaction was humble and humorous, however, and he laid the bulk of the credit on his wife.
“Dear friends, it was bound to happen,” Kaplan wrote the following week in a newsletter to his congregation. “When you are in the public eye and haven’t been arrested or indicted for insider trading, you eventually may be honored by a charitable organization. I had hoped that Gerri and I could remain ‘newcomers’ to the community for a few more years before being so honored, but maybe the folks at Jewish Family Service figured they should act now in case I am arrested.”
Rabbi Kaplan went on to explain that Gerri deserves the bulk of the credit for the award. That is Larry Kaplan: a person more interested in lifting others up than giving himself credit.
Jewish Family Service honored Rabbi and Gerri Kaplan at the group’s annual luncheon on May 7 at the Woodlands Inn & Resort for their distinguished service to the community.
“He goes above and beyond the definition of rabbi, and on top of it all he’s very funny,” said Lisa Morgan, administrative assistant and special programs coordinator for Jewish Family Service.
The Kaplans will also be honored for their outreach as foster parents, in the course of which they have taken more than 40 children into their home.
“We tend to serve the neediest in the community,” said Howard Grossman, executive director of Jewish Family Service. “That’s another reason we’re honoring them; they’ve ended up helping the neediest youngsters in the community.”