The Arnold and Deanne Kaplan Term Acquisition Fund supports the purchase of pre 1890 rare Judaica Americana to augment the Arnold and Deanne Kaplan Collection of Early American Judaica at the Penn Libraries. The Kaplan Collection, now consisting of more than 11,000 items, documents the social and economic development of Jewish life around the Atlantic from the colonial era during the sixteen century until the onset of mass migration to the Americas in the late 1880s. Through the Kaplan's philanthropic generosity, the Penn Libraries will catalogue and digitize the entire collection. The Arnold and Deanne Collection of Early American Judaica will debut in an exhibition at the Penn Libraries' Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts from January 15, 2014 through June 2014. To view the exhibition catalogue, click here.
The gift of the Kaplan Collection, enlarging and enhancing the Penn Libraries' pre-existing rare Judaica Americana holdings, has made the University a premier destination for scholars and the general public researching this subject. The Kaplan collection has already begun to transform the study of American Jewish history at Penn, as well as nationally and internationally. The extraordinary depth and range of the Kaplan collection speaks to the history of multiple communities, subjects and personalities. Among the earliest items in the collection is a late 16th-century codex of the proceedings of the Inquisition in Mexico City against a New Christian accused of Judaizing. Engraved maps dating from the 17th and 18th centuries are among the first to document Jewish permanent settlement in the New World. The strength of the Collection are materials highlighting the development of Jewish mercantile, social and religious activity in the Americas of the late 18th through the late 19th century.
The majority of the Kaplan Collection consists of manuscript and printed material. There is also a diverse array of museum quality pieces of fine and folk art such as rare 19th century oil paintings, presentation pieces and ritual art objects. Additionally there are numerous objects relating to Jewish merchantile activity in the 19th century. To adequately display and house these pieces, the Penn Libraries entered into a unique partnership, first envisioned by Arnold Kaplan, with the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH), loaning them on a long-term basis so that NMAJH may display them in dynamic exhibits. The geographic proximity of the two institutions in the City of Philadelphia facilitates collaborative research and teaching opportunities.
Arnold Kaplan is the retired Chief Financial Officer of United Health Group, a diversified managed health care company that ranks 17th in the Fortune top 500 companies in the United States. Prior to that, he was the Chief Financial Officer at Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. an international corporation whose principal business is supplying industrial gases, performance materials, equipment and technology. Arnold received his Bachelor of Science degree in commerce and engineering from Drexel University and his Master of Science degree in industrial administration from Carnegie-Mellon University. He is a member of the Financial Executives Institute and served on the board of trustees of Financial Executives Research Foundation, Inc. He also serves on the Boards of the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS), UnitedHealth Group Charitable Remainder Trust, is a member of the Ezra Consortium, supporting the American Jewish Archives and is a member of the Collections Committee of the NMAJH. He has served as a board member of the Lehigh Valley Health Network, the Allentown Art Museum, and the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. Arnold is past chairman of the Alumni Board of Governors of Drexel University and he was honored with the " Drexel 100" Award for his outstanding business and community service Arnold and Deanne chaired Lehigh Valley Celebrate 350, which was part of the national commemoration of the anniversary of the first Jews settling in America.