Biblical Archaeology Review 36:2, March/April 2010

First Person: A “Do-er” Dies

Mendel Kaplan (1936–2009)

By Hershel Shanks

Mendel Kaplan, who died on November 19 of a massive stroke at age 73, was a “do-er”; he would get things done—pronto. He was a do-er long before he became interested in archaeology. He described his family’s journey from Lithuania to South Africa in a book called From Shtetl to Steelmaking. A shtetl is a small Jewish village in eastern Europe. In South Africa the family became wealthy manufacturing steel wire. One of the more popular products of the Cape Gate Fence & Wire Works was gabions, steel netting that could be shaped and filled with readily available stones in underdeveloped countries where they could be used inexpensively to create walls, prevent erosion of slopes and control water flow. Mendel also became active in Zionist affairs, long before he became interested and active in archaeology.

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