Rabbi Mendel Kaplan
Born in 1971 in Norfolk, Virginia, Rabbi Kaplan attended Ivy League Yeshiva Schools in New York City during his adolescence. At this time, he contributed regularly to local scholarly journals authoring dozens of original expositions and ruminations in Hebrew. It was also then that his remarkable artistic talent blossomed as well as his leadership role in numerous extracurricular activities. In 1990 after graduating from Oholei Torah Rabbinical Seminary in NYC, at the behest of the celebrated Lubavitcher Rebbe, he went on to serve the secular Jewish community in Los Angeles for a two year Rabbinic internship program in Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon - Chabad in West Hollywood. Upon returning he spent two years of post-graduate study in the prestigious Tomchei Temimim Academy in NYC. He was at that time appointed to an elite coterie of Students referred to as The Kanim ( Branches of the [Illuminating] Menorah), and was represented in the 1993-94 edition of The National Dean’s List. Kaplan also held educational positions at the Yeshiva Colleges in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Petersburg, Russia respectively. In the spring of 1994, after being ordained, Rabbi Kaplan returned from Russia to the U.S. to direct the studies for an elite senior student body which maintained vigil at the bedside of the then ailing Lubavitcher Rebbe in the Beth Israel Hospital of NYC. Upon the Rebbe’s passing that June, he was appointed director of Adult Education at The Lubavitch Center of Jewish Studies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In late September of 1994 The Lubavitch Foundation of Michigan established The Lubavitch Institute for Advanced Studies. Under its umbrella a new rabbinical seminary was opened. In an unprecedented manner the young, recently ordained Rabbi was appointed Rosh Yeshiva (senior professor and director of Talmudic studies). Rabbi Kaplan remained at this prominent and challenging post for three years. During this time he married Faygie (nee Grossbaum) of Thornhill, Ontario and lectured extensively to various segments of the Jewish as well as non-Jewish community throughout the Detroit metro area. In August of 1997 Rabbi Kaplan chose to leave the insular Yeshiva world entirely in order to pursue his passion; imparting the depth of Jewish tradition and teaching to the secular world. Before emigrating to Canada in 1998, the Rabbi served as the scholar-in-residence at the prestigious Mayanot Institue for Jewish Studies in Centre City Jerusalem for several months. In April of 1998, he and his Torontonian born and bred wife Faygie founded Chabad @ Flamingo to serve the affiliated and unaffiliated Jewish population living on the northern edge of Thornhill. Today, the Chabad @ Flamingo religious and social organization occupies the 22,000 sq. ft. Ernest Manson Lubavitch Centre, and caters to hundreds of families through its family oriented Synagogue and Youth Centres, Institute for Adult Jewish learning as well as a Nursery School with a capacity enrollment. To accommodate present as well as anticipated future growth, construction on an already approved 22,000 sq. ft. expansion will be commencing as soon as the capital campaign goal of 6.5 million is reached. Since his arrival in Toronto, the Rabbi has become a regular guest on numerous local television and radio programs. Rabbi Kaplan’s face and voice have become familiar to the public as he is increasingly called upon to address timely, topical as well as general issues for Canadian Jewry. Rabbi Kaplan also serves as a Chaplain of the York Regional Police.