Date Established: November 25, 2015
Established through the generosity of Lazare Kaplan, one of the world’s best known diamond merchants, this fund distributes charitable grants to programs and initiatives impacting youth from the Town of Rockland. Educational scholarships to students pursuing higher education are also distributed.
Lazare Kaplan, the man who cut the 726-carat Jonker diamond in 1936, established this educational foundation in 1965 in his and his wife’s name. Descended from three generations of jewelers, Russian-born Lazare grew up in Belgium. In 1896, at the young age of 13, he began his apprenticeship at his uncle’s diamond cutting factory. His manual dexterity and knack for cleaving flawed and irregular stones made Kaplan one of the most well-known diamond cutters of his time. At age 20, Kaplan started his own diamond business and eventually moved his family to the United States. He was an amazing diamond cutter recognized for over 75 years of innovative design and diamond cutting. In the early 1920’s Lazare purchased a family farm in Lew Beach just outside of Livingston Manor in Sullivan County and embraced the community, becoming active as a Livingston Manor Rotarian in the mid-sixties. Lazare passed away at the age of 102 at the farm.
Lazare established the Lazare and Charlotte Kaplan Foundation with an unexpected $60,000 insurance settlement he received. The foundation was originally established as an endowment for Sullivan County Community College to award scholarships to students. The Foundation will support scholarships for students as well as after school activities, recreational facilities, etc. To date, the Foundation has awarded scholarships to over 1,500 students and has provided numerous community grants to nonprofit organizations that serve Livingston Manor and the neighboring communities.
“To get the kids off the streets of Livingston Manor” – and to the extent that we have funds available from earnings and capital gains, as designated by the Board of Directors, to meet the needs of Livingston Manor first, and then if resources are available, to extend the same to our neighboring communities.
This means providing funds for education to individuals in the arts and sciences and especially in the trades. It also means supporting programs like after school activities, educational support, competitions, recreational facilities, etc.
We should fund projects that are supplemental, and not within the realm of responsibilities of the schools or other governmental agencies.
With our limited resources, we must restrict ourselves to assistance which is vital to the individual or activity concerned: that is, without our help, it would not take place.