Deborah H. Kaplan
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Gathering for the Feast
She set up the tent.

Anyone who has tried it knows the frustration of erecting a tent in the woods with children waiting. But during a vacation at Niagara Falls last summer, Deborah Kaplan snapped together her family's brand new ripstop shelter without breaking a sweat.

"She was the best at that stuff," said her husband, Harold. "She was the engineer. That was her domain."

It was a peculiar domain for an Orthodox Jewish woman from Brooklyn, one of only three women engineers in her graduating class at Cooper Union. She went on to work for the Port Authority, but Mr. Kaplan said engineering was not her passion. Her family was.

For years, Mrs. Kaplan, 45, worked only part time. Even after she was transferred from Journal Square in Jersey City to the World Trade Center this spring she took the 3 o'clock train home to be with her four children, he said.

When the family moved to Paramus, N.J., Mrs. Kaplan discovered that the local yeshiva did not give the children the traditional items used to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. She did not complain. Instead, she found a wholesale supplier of the lulav, a palm branch, and the etrog, a citrus fruit from Israel. She sent forms to parents, took orders and collected payments.

Mrs. Kaplan was so efficient she ended up ordering lulavs and etrogs for five area synagogues. "If you had to count on someone for anything," said Nina Glaser, a friend, "you knew you could count on Debbie."

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Published in New York Times on Nov. 28, 2001.
Memories & Condolences
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32 entries
November 10, 2019
I met Deborah through our boys. They were close friends from k-8 grade. Deborah and I became good friends. She came to my house and me hers. Today, I just finished cleaning one of her friends teeth. Im a dental hygienist. My pt and I reminisced of how
wonderful Deborah was and how she touched our lives. One of the kindest person you would know. She is missed every day.
Deborah Fishman
Friend
August 29, 2019
Im a sophomore at Shanley High School, Fargo ND and researched Deborah Kaplan. I enjoyed researching and learning about Deborah. She died a hero and her legacy will live on. She was brave and and a true hero.
Hannah W.
Student
September 11, 2016
Remembering you with a smile -- that sweet, gentle spirit, so selfless. May your family find some measure of comfort in knowing that you touched so many lives in your short time on this earth. Your star continues to shine !
mb
April 11, 2016

I have fond memories of a fine young woman who I sat next to in Elementary school. May she rest in peace
Joel Markel
October 1, 2013
On 9/11/2013 My wife and I had the privilege of participating in the 2 Million Biker's on D.C. ride to commemorate the Victims and their Families of the 9/11/2001 Nightmare. I had the honor of wearing the name of Deborah H. Kaplan on my leather vest during the ride. Our prayers to the Family and Friends who suffered such a terrible loss. May God rest Her Soul!!!
September 14, 2013
Each year on 09-11, I listen as your name is called, and I watch one of your family members pay tribute to you. You are sorely missed by many.
September 11, 2013
Another year ... you're in our hearts ... you always will be
Mindy, Howard and Matthew
September 11, 2013
Thinking of you today and often. Never forgotten!
Nico
August 26, 2012
I was down at the WTC Memorial last week and took this picture. It is my hope that it will bring some solace to Debbie's family and friends as we approach the eleventh anniversary of her untimely passing.
Steve Haber
May 10, 2012
I knew Deborah as Deb Gittleman back in John Dewey High School. Very sweet, nice person. My condolences.
Bruce Brodinsky
September 2, 2011
Harold, I'll always remember Debbie as the girl who took you out of Brandi's and turned you into a husband. My memories of her are of a sweet, shy, and unassuming person who stole your heart.

As someone who also lost my soul mate, all I can tell you is that I, too, lay awake at night and relish in my memories of what was and what might have been. They can't take those away. I'm sorry for your loss.
Steve Neshan
September 11, 2010
I worked with Debbie at the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) Corp. in Jersey City, NJ in the 80s. She was one of the nicest, most gentle people I've ever met. I was saddened to learn of her fate on 09/11, but I know in my heart that she probably spent her last moments comforting and helping others. She was truly a beautiful person, and I'm honored to have known her.
Mary Beth Meloro
September 11, 2010
In remembrance of Deborah. Rest in peace kind soul.
Sandra Belanger
September 11, 2009
We clasp hands between this world and the next and know with full faith that no one ever really dies.
Sandra Belanger
September 10, 2009
We still remember....and always will
November 21, 2006
In remembrance....
P Tabbernor
November 2, 2006
As I stitched your name on the memorial that I am doing for all of the victims, I prayed for you and your family. Please know that your death was not in vain. We will always remember. God Bless.
Kristine
September 11, 2003
My family and I had the pleasure of travelling throughout Israel a few short months before this tragedy. We joined in celebrating the first bar mitzvah of her son Jeffrey and the second bar mitzvah (aged 83)of my father Lawrence.

Debbie was the shinging beacon of a memorable trip.

We were fortunate to share a very happy ocassion with our families.

We will cherish and remember our time together forever.


We will never forget

Love,

Bob and Marlene
Robert & Marlene Shavelson
January 1, 2003
I had the privelege and honor to know Debbie Kaplan and to work with her at the Port Authority of NY & NJ from 1992 until that fateful day
of September 11, 2001. Debbie was a successful Engineer in her own right, but chose to work part-time as a financial analyst where I met her so that she could devote more time to her growing young family. Debbie was so clear in her priorities, her family and her religious beliefs came first, always. Debbie and I shared the joys and tribulations of raising young children and balancing our work lives with our personal lives.
We had many lively lunchtime chats with our other "group therapy" members, Arda, Tanya, Vickie and Irene. We shared our views on marriage, decorating, work etc. and even watched each other's wedding videos. We shared each others lives and I am so happy I got to know Debbie and her family. Debbie never wavered in her beliefs, she was one of the most focused, strong woman I have ever met. Yet, she was without pretense and as honest as the day is long. I will always remember Debbie's beautiful blue eyes and her laugh as she questioned yet another project and figured out how to make them all work. Debbie took this last position at the World Trade Center because it better fit her family's changing schedule. All of her decisions were like that, based upon her family first. Our last conversation was about her taking this job so that she could still work part-time and be home for her children when they got home from school. Debbie, I dreamed of you last week that you were happy, and you looked beautiful. I have just recently come to terms with the fact that you are gone. I am finally able now, over a year later, to write my entry in your guest book. I am putting a scrapbook together for your family so that they will know, from the words of those who worked with you, just how important your husband Harold and children were to you. I was blessed to know you. You were always an inspiration to me in balancing my own life and I think of you every day and pray for you and your family.

I miss you Debbie.

God Bless you and your family.

Margaret Zampini
Margaret Zampini
September 12, 2002
Dear Debbie,

It has been a year since you've been gone. We had a memorial service last night at our shul and I spoke about you. How much you are missed and how I still think about you. Our prayers are with you and Harold and the kids. Xiaolan sends her love. She often says that she feels that you are not really gone, that you are still here with us. I think she is right. You are in our hearts and prayers.

Love,
Steve Haber
Steve Haber
September 10, 2002
I did not know Deborah, but I wish that I had. My employer distributed pins with names of all the victims from 9/11 and I have Deborah's name. I hope and pray for your family and know that Deborah is with G*d now.
Melissa Urszinyi
May 2, 2002
May God bless you and watch over the family and friends that you left behind on 9/11/01. Rest in his loving peace forever more.
Angie Campbell
February 13, 2002
I met Debbie while working as a consultant to the Port Authority in Journal Square, Jersey City. I’ll always remember as a lovely person, attractive, witty and intelligent. She was devoted to her husband and children and her religion. A person like Debbie doesn’t come along very often and I mourn her loss. My deepest sympathies to all of her family and friends. God bless you.

Bill Niles
February 11, 2002
DEAR GOD SHINE YOUR LIGHT ON THIS WONDERFUL WOMAN DEBORAH H.KAPLAN AND MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE WITH GOD AND HIS ANGELS..GOD BLESS HER FAMILY AND FRIENDS.GOD BLESS AMERICA AND NEW YORK AND MAY WE NEVER FORGET 9/11/01..MAY GOD AND THE BIBICAL DEBORAH GREET YOU AT THE GATES OF HEAVEN...AMEN
February 6, 2002
To the Kaplan Family:

I met Debbie back in 1983 at Club Med in Guadeloupe, along with her friend Florence. We met about 20 other people and had a fun-filled week. We got together a few times after that but lost touch. However, I found out that she had moved to Leonia and lived on the same street as some friends of mine (Rick, Betty, and Ani - see below entries). Although we never met again, I knew that she was doing well and was saddened to hear the terrible news. My condolences go out to all of you.
Hattie Winterfeld
January 27, 2002
To Debbie's Family;

I was one of the three women physics students in Debbie's graduating class at Cooper Union. I remember riding the subway to Brooklyn with her after school. She was a very sweet woman and you have my deepest condolences.
Jaime Rubin
January 24, 2002
Dear Debbie
We met in 1991, when our section got transferred to Journal Square. We worked side by side for 8 years,becoming great friends. We were from very different backgrounds, and yet so similar in characters. I miss you so much. When Harold and you had the twins, you named your daughter Shayna. I thought that was such a beautiful name. You told me it meant beautiful. Four years later, my husband and I had a little girl. We named her Shayna. She reminds me of you. I think of you every day, and I pray for your family. Thank you so much for being part of my life.
Arda McCarthy
January 21, 2002
Neighbors up the street, daily we enjoyed seeing Debbie's parents walking the older two and the twins in the stroller, always happy to stop and talk. Our hearts go out to your beloved family and we will never forget you.
Rick and Betty DeMarco
January 17, 2002
To Debbie's family:

I was one of the other two female engineers in Debbie's Cooper Union class; and the only other Civil graduate. We were, naturally, best friends during our four years at Cooper. Then, life intervened. I went to graduate school and Debbie went to work.

We lost touch after that. As fate would have it, we ran into each other when, unbeknownst to either of us, we found out we had been working across the street from each other in Journal Square. We'd meet occasionally for lunch and to catch up. At that time the two older boys were the topic of conversation.

Fate again intervened when my husband's job took us down South. I told her my news and she told me she was pregnant again.

I came back to New Jersey in 2000 and had hope to look her up again. There just never seemed to be enough time. Now I have a young daughter who takes up my time.

Although it has been many years, I grieve with you all. The person I am today is shaped by the people I have known throughout my life. I am proud to have know Debbie.

Linda Mosch
January 13, 2002
To the Kaplan Family who are precious in God's Sight. God is our Refuge and Strength, always a present help in time of need.
I grieve with you, my heart is burdened for your family over the loss of Deborah. Through Calvary Chapel of Alburquerque,New Mexico, I was able to obtain a bracelet with Deborah's name on it so I could remember the victims of Sept 11th and be reminded to pray for the families. I want you to know I wear this bracelet constantly and it is a privilege to pray for your family. I was able to find her name and have seen her dear face on the website and have read her biography. There are no words to touch your grief, except that God will never leave us or forsake us.
Deborah will never be forgotten by your family or America. Her memory will burn in our hearts as a real hero. May Jehovah Rafa, the God Who heals, grant to your family comfort in your hearts and a peace that surpasses all understanding.

Teri O'Brien
January 9, 2002
Thank you Debbie for you kindnesses as a neighbor and friend while our backyards touched in Leonia...my thoughts and prayers for you, Harold, and for the children....Ani Apelian
Ani. Apelian
December 28, 2001
We are very sorry for your loss of Deborah. May Deborah's life and love (as well as her ability to set up camp) live on in those who love her. Our hearts cry with you.
America Cries
We see your sorrow-
and our hearts cry....
We can not erase your pain
but you do not have to face the anguish alone-for we-
-the American people-
are beside you.
We so desperately want to have the touch that brings you comfort,
the strength that gives you courage,
and the words to lighten your spirits.
And when we are left speechless
may the silence of our nation weave love into your hearts
to ease your sorrow.
May you find healing through our nation's strength as we-
-the American people-
face this difficult time together. Our hearts are with you. Teresa Jahn
Dixon, IL
Teresa Jahn
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