‘Fa­ther of SA Jews’, ac­tivist, leaves rich legacy

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - BIANCA CAPAZORIO

BIL­LION­AIRE phi­lan­thropist Men­del Ka­plan died of a stroke on Thurs­day. He was 73.

Ka­plan, who ran the fam­ily busi­ness Cape Gate, started the Isaac and Jessie Ka­plan Cen­tre for Jewish Stud­ies and Re­search at the Uni­ver­sity of Cape Town.

In a trib­ute the Jewish Board of Deputies’ na­tional chair­man, Zev Kren­gel, called Ka­plan a “fa­ther of the South African Jewish com­mu­nity”.

“When as­sess­ing what our com­mu­nity has achieved over the past few decades – whether it is in the ed­u­ca­tional, civil rights, so­cial out­reach, Zion­is­tic, his­tor­i­cal schol­ar­ship or cul­tural fields – the name of Men­del Ka­plan casts a gi­ant shadow,” he said.

“Few, if any, have done as much to build South African Jewry into the dy­namic, vi­brant com­mu­nity it is to­day.”

Ka­plan was born in Cape Town in 1936 and stud­ied law at UCT. He was awarded an MBA from Columbia Uni­ver­sity.

He held sev­eral high-pro­file po­si­tions in the Jewish com­mu­nity. He was vice-pres­i­dent of the Board of Deputies and honorary pres­i­dent of the World Jewish Congress. Ka­plan also es­tab­lished the South African Jewish Mu­seum in Cape Town.

He ran Cape Gate, a fam­ily busi­ness man­u­fac­tur­ing steel, wire and wire prod­ucts in Is­rael and abroad.

From 1974 on­wards, he split his time be­tween South African and Is­rael.

Ka­plan is sur­vived by his wife Jill, four chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.

He will be buried in Pinelands to­mor­row.

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