Rabbi Robert (Bob) G. Kaplan, JCRC of New York

by Haya Luftig

Rabbi Bob Kaplan is currently the founding Director of The Center for Community Leadership, (formally known as CAUSE – NY) a division of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC).  He also co-directs the New York – Jerusalem Experts Exchange, a joint project of the JCRC and the Jerusalem Intercultural Center that exchanges best practices in building diverse societies. Mr. Kaplan is involved in a variety of issues including conflict resolution, coalition building, interracial/faith relationships, combating hate crimes, and community building. Rabbi Kaplan acts as an organizational consultant to many diverse community-based organizations — Jewish and non-Jewish on the issue of intergroup/faith relations and capacity building.

He served for five years as the Associate Executive Director of Hillel of New York. His former Hillel directorships include New York University, C.W. Post and Pace University. He has served on the Board of Habitat for Humanity- NY, Health Plus and the Lutheran Family Health Care Centers. He currently serves on the Boards of the NYU-Lutheran Medical Center, Mayor DeBlasio’s Clergy Advisory Committee, the Mercy College Advisory Board as well as the Advisory Board of the Center of Ethnic and Community Media at the City University of New York.

Under Mr. Kaplan’s leadership, the commission has been instrumental in developing and consulting to many community-based coalitions and community building initiatives such as  We Are All Brooklyn, the Northern Queens Health Coalition, Project C.A.R.E. (Crown Heights), the Greater Southern Brooklyn Health Coalition, the Coalition for Far Rockaway and the Lower Manhattan Heath Care Coalition,  amongst others. He co-founded the Bronx Center for Non – Profits a partnership with Hostos Community College Queens Forum and the Institute at La Guardia Community College. All of these groups are dedicated to improving the quality of life for all.

Amongst the leadership initiatives he has founded are; YouthBridge-NY, the We Are All New York (the latest iteration of our borough based fellowships in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Northern Manhattan), Women in Faith, Community Connections, Jewish Campus Leadership and the Haitian Leaders Fellowships. These fellowships annually train more than 120 faith and community leaders in the core competencies of leadership, problem solving and diversity. He has recently consulted to the formation of YouthBridge-Munich and We Are All Sydney, both based on the New York models that Mr. Kaplan created.


Mr. Kaplan is called upon by the non-profit and government sectors and as an expert and consultant in the arena of diversity, community building, leadership development, coalitions, and intergroup relations. In February 2009, Bob Kaplan, along with Mohammed Razvi, trained Jewish and Arab leaders in the skills of coalition building and coexistence work, in mixed cities in Israel on the behalf of the U.S. State Department. He also served as a consultant for the United Kingdom Foreign Office working with groups in London and Bristol on Muslim /Jewish Relations.  He was also part of a team of community and policing experts that traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland to train and teach local community leaders and police officials as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored program. He has lectured for the Jamaican Foreign Ministry, European Union and The Department of State of the United States on issues of diversity, ethnic media, coalition and community building, social change and responsibility in the media and community organizing. He has served as a delegate and presenter to the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue. Rabbi Kaplan served as an adjunct professor in the Jewish Studies Department at The City College of New York where he taught a course on the Jewish Immigrant Experience in New York City.

He serves as a mentor and fieldwork supervisor for Master of Social Work graduate students in the field of community organizing. He likewise serves as a Clergy Liaison to the Chief of Community Affairs of the New York Police Department (NYPD). He has been trained by the Community Mediation Services, Inc. in mediation and conflict resolution. As a member of the clergy, Bob Kaplan was a grief counselor for the American Red Cross assigned to working with relief workers at the respite center located at Ground Zero. He is a member of the Micah Roundtable on Social Justice.

Mr. Kaplan serves as a member of the NYC Department of Education’s Diversity Council. He presented to President Clinton’s White House Conference on Race and was a member of the Plenary Committee for the United Nations Conference, Habitat II.  Mr. Kaplan was a member of the Design Team and faculty member of the Institute for Public Health and Faith Collaborations, collaboration between the Rollins School of Health at Emory University and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.  He served as the coalition consultant to the Black/Jewish Congressional Coalition in Washington DC.

About the Author

Haya Luftig