Veteran Seattle teacher and civil rights activist, Sara Dalkowitz Kaplan grew up in Pearsall, TX. She was the only Jewish child in her county, and her parents drove her 50-plus miles to attend Sunday School each week at San Antonio’s reform congregation. Sara graduated from high school as the newspaper editor, champion debater, class president and valedictorian. She later earned a B.A. in political science at the University of Texas, an M.A. in economics from Columbia University, and her teaching certificate. In 1950 she married Seymour Kaplan. They raised two children, and for 25 years, Sara taught social studies and debate at Rainier Beach and Franklin High Schools. Active in Democratic Party politics since high school, Sara spent her life fighting for social justice: she served as president of B‘Nai B’rith Women, Vice President of Brandeis University National Women’s Committee, a board member of the Anti-Defamation League, and an active member of the NAACP and Seattle Urban League. In 1995 the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle recognized her efforts, establishing the Sara Kaplan Award for Outstanding Community Service in her honor. She died in July 2012 at the age of 89.
“Well, I liked teaching kids what they didn’t know. I liked teaching kids about black kids and white kids and Asian kids. I liked that kind of thing. I never was angry with any student that I had. If I wouldn’t like what he was doing, I’d tell him so. But I liked teaching. I really liked it.”
“I’ve been to Israel twice. My husband took me once, and in the 1960s I took, I think, 14 kids to Israel when there was a convention. And I took them from different high schools. I took one from Seattle, I think I took two from my school, and then took one from every school here. There were no Jewish students. Or maybe one Jewish student, a mix of kids, a mix of religion. I took a couple of foreign students there. And it was very nice. I wish I could do it again.”
“I really loved Seymour Kaplan. I keep thinking about him all the time. He was an Anti-Defamation League Director. We were kindred spirits in many ways. We shared his work. And working with the Democratic Party, and I guess everything. And he was very good to our children.”
“One day, when the Democrats were not supporting Israel, we actually walked out of a political party. I had been a Jew in a foreign city-Pearsall, Texas. Where none of my friends were Jewish, except they went to my graduation. But when the State of Israel began, it was great. I was in New York at [Columbia] University when the State of Israel was formed. A lot of people came to my room and told me. It was a very exciting moment for me.”
© 2004 Jewish Women’s Archive. Photographs by Joan Roth.