Ira Kaplan said he believes by making a difference in not only the Jewish community, but in the general community as well, he can help make Cleveland better for everyone – no matter their background.

And he’s had plenty of great role models in his life, such as his mother who fought for racial and economic equality and inclusion in Shaker Heights and his in-laws who were heavily involved in their congregation– The Temple-Tifereth Israel – and avid supporters of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

“We live in a challenging time,” Kaplan said. “What motivates me are opportunities to facilitate positive change through working with like-minded and passionate people who are supportive of the Jewish value of tikkun olam, repairing the world. Even though we do it a little bit at a time, making a positive difference in even one person’s life is important. This core Jewish value keeps me motivated, and I feel so very privileged to be able to do this. I think we have to take care of our own. But I also think we have a broader responsibility, which is why I also am involved in the general community.”

And motivated he is – the Lyndhurst resident is the chair of Bellefaire JCB, board member and treasurer of the Mount Sinai Health Care Foundation, board member and past board chair of Menorah Park, board member of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and past chair of the Federation’s Community Planning Committee, board member of the Wingspan Care Group, board chair of the Cleveland Leadership Center, board member and past board chair of Engage!Cleveland, second vice chair of United Way Greater Cleveland and is involved with various Cleveland initiatives that are focused on economic development with a focus on equity and inclusion. He is also a past board chair of Council Gardens.

“I think that while I’m still trying to figure out how to allocate my time in a way that can have the most impact, I also recognize that being involved has become a part of who I am,” Kaplan said. “Even though it takes up a lot of time during the day and during mornings and evenings, it’s not something that is a burden. These are things that I do because I think they’re important and I love doing them, and the people that I’ve had the benefit of meeting and getting to know have enriched my life and made it a pleasure to do this work.”

During Kaplan’s time with Menorah Park, he was a part of board planning regarding community needs related to brain health, which led to the Menorah Park Center 4 Brain Health that works on educating, supporting and assessing the community with memory care or brain health issues. He’s also proud of Bellefaire JCB’s creation of a 12-bed psychiatric hospital for children that will open shortly, as well as the leadership roles of the Mount Sinai Foundation and United Way in forming a community coalition to combat the effects of lead paint in Cleveland.

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