Beth David will hold the last of its Luncheon Speaker Series of the season on Saturday, June 10, with Dr. Benjamin Kaplan speaking on “From the Parasha to Participation: Finding Community in Binghamton.” He will link that Saturday’s Torah reading to his experiences living in Binghamton during the completion of his medical training. The luncheon will take place after Shabbat morning services, which begin at 9:30 am, and is open to the community. There is no charge for the luncheon.
The Torah portion, BeHa’alotcha (Numbers 8:1-12:16), recounts the time after the Jews have left Egypt and are wandering in the desert toward their promised land. They begin to complain to such a degree that Moses asks God why the burden of leadership has been placed on him. “This Torah portion,” says Kaplan, “is one that I find particularly meaningful and applicable to feelings of displacement and isolation that we as Jews and human beings may be experiencing in today’s world. I plan to delve further into this parasha, and its focus on literally taking action. How? By doing something my family and I discovered during our three years in Binghamton. We replaced longing for the familiar, for ‘the way things used to be,’ with becoming involved in our different flavor of Jewish communal life here at Beth David. I have always been inspired by the teachings of two rabbis of blessed memory: Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. I plan to incorporate their insights into how change and difference have the potential of providing faith-affirming spiritual possibilities that come about by virtue of our having been displaced from the comfort of familiar surroundings and practices.”
Kaplan grew up in New Jersey and attended the Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva. He spent a year studying in Israel, attended Yeshiva University and obtained his bachelor of science degree summa cum laude from Touro College, with a major in human biology. “A bad ankle injury,” he said, “sparked my interest in the field I chose to pursue and, in 2020, I graduated from The New York College of Podiatric Medicine. After graduation, my family and I came to Binghamton for my post-graduate work at Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital. In June, I am scheduled to complete my residency in surgical podiatry.”
Kaplan and his wife Bat-Chen have known each other since elementary school. While Kaplan worked as a resident, his wife continued the professional studies she had begun at Rutgers University, and completed her advanced nursing degree at Binghamton University. They, along with their 3-year-old daughter, Zoey, and 7-month-old son, Yedidya, are members of Beth David Synagogue. “Being in Binghamton and being a part of Beth David have been truly inspirational experiences,” Kaplan says. “My involvement in the shul has made me realize how important Judaism is for me and my family. I am still moved whenever I recall how warmly we were embraced from the first moment we arrived. In a large community, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Here, every person counts and becomes a valued part of the congregation. It has made me appreciate how each of us has a role to play and needs to get involved in order to sustain and bolster our collective and individual Judaism. The personal rewards are incredibly powerful. As an example, our daughter Zoey’s first introduction to shul and Judaism took place here. I am sure that the love and level of comfort she constantly experiences as a ‘regular’ at Beth David will stay with her forever.”
“We look forward to having community members join us,” organizers say, “for what promises to be an inspiring talk coupled with a delicious luncheon enjoyed together, as we wish Ben and his family much success in the next chapter of their lives!”
Since the monthly series’ continuation depends on the generosity of contributors, Beth David welcomes donations to the Luncheon Fund in order to keep the program going. Donations, as well as sponsorships, can be made in honor of or in memory of someone, or to mark a special occasion. Those wishing an acknowledgment to be sent to the person being honored, or to the family of someone being remembered, can indicate that along with the necessary information. Donations can be sent to Beth David Synagogue, 39 Riverside Dr., Binghamton, NY 13905, Attention: Luncheon Fund.