A young child when he fled Nazism for Shanghai in 1940 together with his father, Rabbi Yisroel Kaplinsky, and other students at the Mir yeshivah in Poland, Yitzchok Kaplinsky would go on to become a sought-after teacher and lecturer at Brooklyn’s Yeshivah Torah Vodaas for more than five decades. He passed away on April 9, the second day of Passover, after battling COVID-19.

After the passing of his father, Yitzchok Kaplinsky took the helm of his small yet vibrant Far Rockaway congregation, which had a reputation of being one of the warmest and most friendly synagogues in the neighborhood.

“When I came to the ‘Kaplinsky shul,’ I was immediately greeted by the happiest and most genuine smile I had ever seen,” Henach Gewirtz recalled in Mishpacha magazine. “Rav Yitzchak made everyone feel at home and special. Even though the shul was very small, even if it was crowded, a place was made for everyone, including children who really came to daven. The most special day of the year in the shul was Simchat Torah. Rav Kaplinsky himself led all the hakafot, dancing and dancing till midnight on Simchat Torah night and until late in the afternoon the next day. I remember feeling that I was being transported to a different time and place, Europe before the Churban [‘destruction’], during those special hakafot.”

As a teacher, Kaplinsky made his mark on countless students.

“A remarkable educator,” wrote one former student. “He was my last teacher in Mesivta [high school], before moving on to Beis Medrash [college-age yeshivah], some 50 years ago. Easily the most animated and caring of my teachers. During class, he would move all over the front of the classroom. His passion and love for Torah was apparent the moment you met him. A caring, warm, selfless and very likable person.”

Kaplinsky is survived by his wife, Shulamis; their children, Aaron Kaplinsky, Shlomie Kaplinsky and Miriam Stern; and their grandchildren.

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