In Memoriam: Stanley H. Kaplan

The Jewish Theological Seminary family mourns the death of our esteemed benefactor, renowned entrepreneur and educator Stanley H. Kaplan, (z"l), whose commitment to the values of Jewish education was reflected in his personal life and philanthropy and in his steadfast support of JTS.

The Rita J. & Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation's sponsorship of the Paul A. Kaplan Pastoral Care Internship at The Rabbinical School has been a great support to the patients served by our rabbinical students. Our hearts go out to his beloved wife, Rita, their children and grandchildren, and other family. May his memory be a blessing.

-Arnold Eisen, Chancellor
-Abby Joseph Cohen, Chair of the Board of Trustees


Considered the father of the test preparation industry, Stanley H. Kaplan founded the nation's first and largest test preparation business in 1938. The small company he began in the basement of his parents' Brooklyn home became a nationally recognized brand name synonymous with test preparation. He is credited not only with creating an industry, but also with starting one of the country's first and largest for-profit education companies. Stanley H. Kaplan remained with the company that bore his name until his retirement in 1994.

Rejected from medical school during an era of ethnic quotas, Mr. Kaplan believed that students should have access to higher education based on academic merit, rather than privilege. In the 1940s, he embraced the SAT and other admissions tests as opportunities for students to prove themselves in the admissions process and dedicated his career to helping students excel on these important exams.

Mr. Kaplan was born in New York City in 1919 and grew up in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. At age 14, he received his first paid job tutoring other students, earning 25 cents an hour. At age 16, he entered City College of New York and continued to tutor professionally. After graduating from City College, he started his tutoring business in the basement of his parents' home. In 1946, a student Mr. Kaplan was tutoring asked him if he could help her study for a college admissions test called the Scholastic Aptitude Test (the name was subsequently changed to the Scholastic Assessment Test and is commonly referred to as the SAT).

His introduction to the SAT ignited a half-century-long love affair with a test that would eventually lead him to expand his modest home business into an international enterprise of private education.

A teacher at heart, Mr. Kaplan seized opportunities to expand his business to meet growing demand. By the 1960s, as admissions tests for graduate schools came into widespread use, he expanded his classes to serve students preparing for law school, business school and medical school. When he discovered that one of his students was flying from the University of California at Berkeley to attend his classes in New York, he expanded nationally. The first center outside of New York opened in Philadelphia in 1970, followed by others soon after in Washington, DC; Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; and Miami. By 1975, Mr. Kaplan had opened test preparation centers in 23 cities from coast to coast.

By 1984, Kaplan had expanded to more than 100 centers nationally with about 600 part-time satellite offices serving 95,000 students a year. In 1984, The Washington Post Company purchased Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Centers, Ltd. and Mr. Kaplan remained with the company for the next 10 years.

After retiring in 1994, Mr. Kaplan served as the President and Director of the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation. He published his biography Stanley H. Kaplan Test Pilot: How I Broke Testing Barriers for Millions of Student and Caused a Sonic Boom in the Business of Education (Simon & Schuster) in 2001.

Mr. Kaplan is survived by his wife Rita J. Kaplan, daughters Susan B. Kaplan and Nancy Kaplan Belsky; son-in-law Mark Belsky and grandchildren, Scott Kaplan Belsky and his wife Erica Roizen, Julie Kaplan Belsky and Gila Kaplan Belsky. In addition, he leaves step grand-children Stephen, Cherrie, Douglas and Tracey. He is also survived by his sister Rosalie Sporn and sister-in-law Beatrice Kaplan.

-Text courtesy of The Rita J. & Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation, Inc.

Make an online donation to JTS in honor of Stanley H. Kaplan (z"l).

If you would like to mail your donation, please put "In Memory of Stanley Kaplan" in the memo line of your check and send to:
The Jewish Theological Seminary
Development Office
Designated to: Paul A. Kaplan Clinical Pastoral Counseling Program
3080 Broadway
New York, NY 10027