16 thoughts on “Jonah: School Humanitarian of the Year – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. “I’m a nervous rag [wreck].”

    Maybe the connection via the German word Nervenbuendel does help?

    I love etymology but unfortunately the online dictionary via google books does not give me the page. I have a theory though that comes close to your wreck.
    Rags were bundled (Buendel). Just as a nervous wreck feels like something that should be discarded, figuratively. It could of course allude to the medical “bundle of nerves”, if it is a younger coinage, which I doubt.


    Maybe your granny carried along a meaning, she felt was more precise than “bag of nerves”, feeling more like a bundle of rags.

    You will please forgive me this. But I love tales about family. They influence us more over the generations than we are prepared to admit.

  2. Congrat Richard

    A Chip of the old Block huh ?
    We dont have those silly awards in Norway,its kind of inconsistent with our egalitarian creed. But if we had, this would be the one I want for my children.
    An ani-ADL reward ? thats “gefundenes fressen”

  3. I have to love that this blog showed up on my web search for Seymour Kaplan.. as my 3rd grade son brought home the same nomination letter.. today – the day AFTER the award ceremony (which , of course, as a result I missed). We are also so proud of his compassion, humbleness and all around good nature that I cannot express my dismay of celebrating this moment publicly with him. We can only console ourselves in that he thought it was so ordinary that it was not “that big of a deal” and that is truly what makes it extraordinary!

  4. Sey Kaplan (OBM) was my Dad. Merle Cohn, Bob Miller and Art Siegal are the three B’nai B’rith brothers who created this award and saw to it it was endowed to go on in perpetuity. My Mom, currently a resident at Kline Galland, was the political activist. Dad tried to stay non-partisan. Amongst his close friends were Dan Evans and Henry Jackson. Dad believed prejuduce was learned and worked to bring diversity training (though they called it something else back then) into Seattle Schools. He and Attorney Lem Howell led the fight to integrate the carpenters union. Lem’s daughter is also a winner of the award. He died way too young — at 60 in 1974 and I’ve alwys been grateful to Blanche Wolman and the others who drove the WA State Man of the Year event and to Merle, Art and Bob for creating this wonderful award in his memory.

  5. @David Kaplan: I was hoping that a member of your family would see this post & reply. All I can say is that though I never met your dad, I’ve met so many wonderful Jewish dads like him through the yrs. & I can imagine he was a real mensch.

    THanks for the history of the award & your dad’s good deeds in the Seattle community.

  6. Dear Richard,

    I am Seymour Kaplan’s daughter. My 25 year old daughter googled my dad’s name recently and found your posting. I see my brother David replied as well. I was 18 years old when my dad died (and turned 53 today!)and it brings me great joy that his name lives on in this award. I followed in his footsteps, leading nonprofit organizations for the last 23 years. I currently live in Gig Harbor and work in downtown Tacoma as the Executive Director of the YWCA Pierce County. Our focus is on domestic violence and racial justice. I am grateful to my father for the values he instilled in us that all people should be treated with equal respect and dignity. It sounds like you instilled the same values with your child.

    It is a joy to connect to you via email. Please let your son know that it means a lot to us to know our dad’s legend lives on in young people like Jonah.

    Miriam Barnett

  7. @Miriam Kaplan Barnett: Thank you for your lovely comment and for the wonderful humanitarian tradition represented by your dad, may his memory be for a blessing. I hope my son will have an opportunity to meet your mom some day.

  8. Hello,

    I was going through Facebook and saw a group for Eckstein Middle School, Seattle where I attended many years ago. It was 1978, an 8th grader that I was called into the principal’s office where I was presented with the Seymour Kaplan award. I felt so honored. Years after graduating from Roosevelt, I went to visit Eckstein to look at the plaque because I was the first recipient there. It was such an honor even though at the time I did not know who Seymour Kaplan was and what he stood for.

    Thank you for having this site for Jonah. I appreciate his children Miriam and David for taking the time to share. What I love is that in my adult years I am still that person who is compassionate about people and have stayed involved in the community.

    Before leaving my home, Seattle in 2004 (live in Houston, TX now) I was part of the SPD Victim Support Team for domestic violence. Reading about Miriam was amazing for me to see because I just see how God’s plan was always at work.

    Take care and thanks again for sharing the honor your son Jonah received. I’ve got a feeling that one day Jonah will too look back and will feel so rewarded as I do today, 30 years later.

    God Bless!


  9. I found your blog because my son received the Seymour Kaplan award at his 5th grade graduation today. I was so pleased to learn more about the award and the man who inspired it.
    We are so very proud of our son. At the graduation, people made comments about the impact of his parents on his behavior but honestly, his empathy and compassion towards people and his sense of fairness and concern about his community is something that comes from deep within him. I am proud to be his mother but I can’t take credit for the way he views humanity.

  10. Richard – Thank you for helping us learn more about Seymour Kaplan! My son Luke received the award yesterday and I am going to share this with him so he can see what truly inspiring company he is in. Many thanks as well to David and Miriam for filling in a few more details about their dad and his legacy. Good things happened in this country because of the persistent hard work by people like your parents and it is wonderful to have this award provide a moment in time for us to celebrate that way of life with our children.

  11. Hi Richard,

    I was talking to my girlfriend today about the awards and accolades we’ve acquired over the years (she’s doing college applications and was at that part in the form) when I remembered I won the Seymour Kaplan Award eight years ago in 5th grade. I forgot what the award was for and got curious, leading me here. Reading about your son winning the award and the man who inspired it makes me realize how lucky I was/am. Congratulations to your son and to you for raising him so well.

  12. My grandson, Sylas P. Linnemann rec’d the Sey Kaplan award from Schmitz Park School, W.Seattle on 21 June 2011.
    I’m looking on line and find very little on Mr. Kaplan or the back ground of the award. Can someone direct me to a website to clarify this issue?
    Yours truly,
    E. Linnemann, Shamong, NJ

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