Sent by I.S Shadmehr
The first Persian American ( JEW ) in
New York State
to hold a major elected office.
Ms. Kaplan, an Iranian Jew born in Tabriz, was 12 years old when she fled to the United States. As she relates, "When the Islamic Revolution took place in 1979, there was great concern that Iran's religious minorities would be persecuted or even killed. As Jews, my parents were particularly concerned about the safety of their children under an Islamic Regime.
My parents thought it best to send me to the United States as part of an international effort to help the Jewish children of Iran leave the country. Thus, I ended up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in a strange country where I did not speak the language. To make matters worse, my parents were unable to follow me to the United States and began a yearlong odyssey through Europe and the Middle East as they attempted to obtain Visas for legal travel to the United States.
"Eventually, I was sent to live with a foster family in Chicago where I attended high school. I learned to speak English by watching soap operas and television reruns, which was probably not the best preparation for a career in public speaking. Later, my parents were able to join me in Chicago and our family was finally reunited. We had left almost everything we had behind, but we still had each other.
"We then moved back to New York and I attended Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University receiving a BS in Biology. After college, I made an unexpected decision to become a lawyer and received a J.D. from Benjamin Cardozo School of Law. I was one of the first Persian Woman to obtain a J.D."
Now she has become the first Persian American in New York State to hold a major elected office. With her husband, two daughters and mother-in-law in the crowd, her voice was overcome with emotion as she contemplated having escaped an oppressive regime where people were afraid to vote, to become an American citizen and be elected to office.
"I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve my community, my country."