Longtime volunteer Lea Caplan, a retired CPA of 40 years who currently completes tax returns for lower-income seniors through AARP’s Tax Aide, will be honored at an enhanced Shabbat service at Temple Beth-El (TBE) on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 10:30 a.m.
The community is welcome to celebrate Caplan, an active participant in Sisterhood, Torah Study, the rabbi’s Siddur class and the Worship Committee.
“Lea is always there to help out when you need her, from setting up Shabbat lunch to ensuring the technology is working properly,” said TBE Rabbi A. Brian Stoller. “She is a dedicated student. An accountant by trade, she brings a logical, analytical approach to our class discussions. Her curiosity and sharp intellect are matched by her warm and caring heart. Lea is a treasure to the TBE community, and I feel blessed to know her.”
Before joining TBE, Caplan and her husband, Sandy, spent Jewish holidays with their families. Caplan grew up in Albany attending religious school at Temple Israel, a Conservative congregation; her husband grew up in Port Washington belonging to Temple Judea, a Reform synagogue.
“When our older son, Evan, started kindergarten, we wanted him to begin in an after-school Jewish education program and had to decide whether to join a Conservative or Reform temple,” explained Caplan. “Sandy felt he would be uncomfortable at a Conservative one; I was willing to try a Reform temple, and we heard TBE had a great kindergarten program. This was 1990, and Cantor Lisa Hest had just started at TBE. I found her tunes familiar and knew it would be a great match.”
The family’s involvement began with religious school and Friday night services. Over time, Caplan and her husband joined Sisterhood, Brotherhood and the Young Couples Club. She eventually became Sisterhood treasurer and held that position for six years.
While the boys were teens, Caplan became a regular at Torah Study. When her youngest, Seth, left for college in 2006, she joined the adult confirmation class.
“The following two years were tough for Sandy and me, as he lost his father and I lost both my mother and stepmother,” noted Caplan. “Being part of Torah Study and confirmation class was very comforting. We studied some Central Conference of American Rabbis responsa, and I was able to discuss the Reform practices dealing with death with our rabbis. Though we knew we made the right choice by joining TBE, the confirmation class truly cemented our decision.”
During COVID, the long-standing Worship Committee member helped coordinate and lead Shabbat services on Zoom. She is also part of TBE’s social justice group that promotes voting, participates in Whitney Pond Park cleanups and is an usher during Yom Kippur services.
“I know Lea through our work on the Worship Committee, our attendance at Torah Study, our participation at services and through social action,” said congregant Howard Herman. “Her observations and questions are always on point and demonstrate her selflessness and concern for others. She more than carries her share in everything she volunteers for. Her high moral and ethical standards reverberate through all she does. I am proud to call her a friend and confidante.”
Join Caplan when she discusses the parashah Va’Eira at 5 Old Mill Rd. in Great Neck. To learn more, call 516-487-0900, visit www.tbegreatneck.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Submitted by Temple Beth-El of Great Neck