For decades, Anne Selby has been deeply involved with Jewish communal life on the North Shore. This summer, she will celebrate her 49th wedding anniversary to her husband, Bob Selby. They have three children: Joe, Steve and Kate, and spouses, Ari, Rachel and Dan, and eight grandchildren (four boys and four girls ranging in age from 6-14). All live in Marblehead. Selby is part of a fourth-generation family business, Kappy’s Fine Wine and Spirits. It was founded by her grandfather Harry Kaplan, and continued by her father, Ralph and uncle Bernard Kaplan. Her husband, Bob Selby, and her brother-in-law Brian Moore, have led Kappy’s for many decades, and now the business is being led by her sons Joe and Steve Selby, and nephew Scott Moore.
Where did you grow up, and could you tell me about your upbringing?
I had an amazing upbringing. I grew up in Swampscott, the eldest of four girls. My parents were the kindest, most generous people I have ever met. Supportive and loving, they have always been my strongest support. Our family has always been surrounded by a large circle of family and friends, all of whom are still an important part of our lives.
Your parents were very involved in the Jewish community. Could you tell us about them and why they were so committed to Jewish causes, and which causes?
My dad, Ralph Kaplan, was a role model and mentor to literally hundreds of people. His generosity was legendary. Israel and Israel Bonds was his primary love, but there are dozens and dozens of philanthropies and organizations that counted my dad and our extended family as major supporters. Some of those include Temple Israel and Congregation Shirat Hayam, the Jewish Federation of the North Shore and Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Epstein Hillel School (there is an amazing mosaic on the outside of the school building with my dad at the center), the Anti- Defamation League, the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore, the Harriett and Ralph Kaplan Estates Assisted Living and Memory Support in Peabody, part of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He was generous to Chabad of the North Shore, Temple Emanu-El, Jewish Family & Children’s Service, the Jewish Journal and the list goes on and on. The word “no” was not in his vocabulary. My mom was the support behind my dad. She encouraged him to be involved and supported all of his philanthropic endeavors.
When did you first become interested in Judaism?
I attended Temple Israel Hebrew School and its Hebrew High School, but I got re-engaged when I enrolled my oldest son, Joe, at Cohen Hillel Academy, now Epstein Hillel School. That was the best gift my husband and I ever gave our children. Our three children and three of our nieces and nephews attended Hillel, and many of my closest friends are people I met through this amazing school. I have learned as much as my children did about Judaism, tzedakah, Jewish values and Jewish heritage through my involvement in the school.
How did you get involved in Jewish organizations and which ones have you helped lead?
Shortly after my son started Hillel, Dr. Bennett I. Solomon (z”l) asked if I would consider chairing the Parent Committee. It was impossible to say no to Bennett and that was the beginning. At Hillel I have served in almost every lay position, including president of the Board and chair of the annual gala. At the Jewish Community Center I chaired several major fundraisers and served for many years as a vice president. For the Anti-Defamation League I chaired the North Shore Advisory Committee and served on the regional board. For the Jewish Federation I was co-chair of the board during the merger with CJP, and subsequently served as co-chair of the CJP North Shore Planning Committee.
Why are you so passionate about Jewish life and the Jewish community?
I love being Jewish. I am proud of the strong historical traditions and lessons of Judaism, which emphasize acts of loving kindness, leading a life of purpose guided by Jewish values, and caring for those in need. I am connected to Israel and Jews around the world who need our support and love.
You served as co-president of the Jewish Federation of the North Shore during its merger with CJP and played an important role during the successful transition. You’ve also served as co-chair of the North Shore Planning Committee. What’s CJP’s main role on the North Shore?
As part of CJP, I am so proud of CJP’s major focuses – anti-poverty, social justice, Jewish learning, Israel and overseas, inclusion for all. Our North Shore is so lucky to be part of one of the most visionary and caring organizations I have ever encountered. When there is a need, CJP is the first to lead the way to help. CJP has offered support to local agencies in so many ways, expanded major Jewish learning on the North Shore, opportunities for meaningful missions to Israel, provided a warm line for those in financial need, and the list goes on and on.
Anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment is rising in America and in Massachusetts. What’s the best way to combat it?
As someone who has been involved with the Anti-Defamation League for many decades, I am heartbroken that anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment seem to be on the increase. I hope that the programs that the Anti-Defamation League supports which educate the next generation to become peer leaders to address these serious issues will help that generation to become more sensitive to the racism and bigotry that seems so prevalent currently.
What are the biggest challenges facing the Greater Boston Jewish community?
I think apathy is our greatest challenge. When people engage in some form of connection with our wonderful Jewish organizations, I believe lives are changed for the better. Young people connect differently than my generation, and we need to engage them in the wonderful work and connect to communities of caring that will touch their hearts.
What can Jews do to make our community stronger?
Education, and creating programs that offer meaning and purpose.
What do you love most about being Jewish?
I love being part of a group of people who change lives. I get chills when I see what Israel has accomplished, being so strong and vibrant. I love that our Jewish community is at the forefront of inclusion, especially through the Ruderman Foundation, that leads initiatives so that people of all abilities have equal opportunities. I love that our people care so much about those with less advantage, and that we are a lifeline for people who need support. I love that our religion teaches tolerance, and tzedakah, and is a guide for moral living and kindness.