Elliot Kaplan was never all that active in the Jewish community growing up in St. Paul. But, as a junior at the University of Minnesota, his election to Hillel president was the start of something that would span both the Jewish and U of M communities in the six decades since.
On Tuesday, Kaplan was awarded the Regents Award at the University of Minnesota on Sept. 24 in recognition of his decades of service to the university where he graduated from both undergrad and law school. The award is one of the highest honors the University bestows. It is used to recognize individuals, families, and organizations that demonstrate exceptional service to the University over a sustained period of many years.
“It is a great honor,” Kaplan said. “I’m humbled and honored to receive it.”
Kaplan was cited for his leadership to the law school, hie role on the presidential search advisory commission, and as board chair and trustee of the University of Minnesota Foundation. He continues as a lifetime trustee of the school’s foundation.
Kaplan served as Hillel’s president in the 1957-58 school year.
“I was able to really help build a stronger Jewish community on the campus and to increase the number activities, together with the professional staff, for the student body,” he said. He’s stayed involved in the Jewish community and the university community because “I believe that I, and my family, has an obligation to give back to the community.”
Minnesota Hillel Executive Director Benjie Kaplan takes a great deal of pride in Elliot Kaplan’s honor.
“It’s not every day a Hillel gets to see one of their past student presidents bestowed with a University’s highest honor. Today, we are proud to be one of those Hillels,” he said. “Elliot has always been a champion of the U and of Jewish life here. This honor is beyond deserved!”