Rabbi Gilbert Klaperman, 90, pictured in his study in Lawrence.
Yesterday I drove out to Lawrence to photograph Rabbi Gilbert Klaperman at his home for a story my friend Michael Orbach is doing. The rabbi, who turned 90 this past weekend, was born in Harlem to Polish parents who immigrated to the United States in 1911. For some context, Taft was president and the Panama Canal was 3 years from completion when Gilbert’s parents, along with the 637,003 other immigrants who passed through Ellis Island that year, first laid eyes on New York harbor. In his long life, Klaperman has been a religious leader, teacher and a lawyer. He has met heads of state, including Kennedy, Nixon, Khrushchev and Pope John Paul II, the latter two in an effort to open channels of emigration for Soviet Jews and to have the Vatican recognize the state of Israel, which it did. When I was leaving, I mentioned that I had to make a phone call, and he insisted that I use his home phone. That’s old school.