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Sender Meyer Kaplan

KAPLAN, SENDER MEYER (1914–1992), journalist and Zionist activist; honorary consul of Israel in Cuba. He was the son of Rabbi Zvi Kaplan, the spiritual leader of the Ashkenazi congregation Adath Israel in Havana (1929–31) and later of Knesset Israel (1931–41), Sender Kaplan emigrated from Poland to Cuba with his family at the age of 15. After serving a short time as an apprentice to a watchmaker, he began to work at the Yiddish periodical Havaner Lebn, serving as its editor from 1935 until it was closed down in 1960. Havaner Lebn, which was published twice a week, was the main Jewish periodical in Cuba, and Kaplan had a central role in shaping Jewish public opinion. An outstanding Zionist leader, he was the president of the Unión Sionista de Cuba in 1940–43. When JNF leader Nathan Bistritzky began to organize the Comité Cubano Pro Palestina Hebrea (the Cuban Committee for a Jewish Palestine) Kaplan served as the link with Cuban politicians and intellectuals. Thanks to his great devotion to the Zionist cause and to his close contacts in government circles, Kaplan was appointed honorary consul when the Consulate of Israel was opened in Havana (1952). In 1954 the Israeli ambassador in Mexico presented his credentials to President Batista, and Kaplan remained the only diplomatic representative of Israel residing in Havana until the Castro revolution. In 1961 Kaplan emigrated to Miami, where he continued to serve the Zionist cause. He worked as director of the Latin Department of the Jewish Federations of Greater Miami. He devoted the later years of his life to writing the history of the Jews of Cuba, but was unable to complete the work.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.