Passing on the Torch

They lived a mile apart growing up in Elkins Park, sharing friends and even being in the same places, but never met. That happened when Bill Kramer and Karen Blum met on a blind date – she a recent graduate of the University of Delaware and he in his first year of law school at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also earned his undergraduate degree.

"I tell him he fell in love right away," said Karen, now Kramer.

Coming from parents, grandparents and great-grandparents they described as "Jewish activists, philanthropists and volunteers," the two share a commitment to community that is now being passed on to their children: Melissa, 13; Benjamin, 10; and Joshua, 8.

"I've been a beneficiary of funding from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia," Bill Kramer, pointed out, referring to his education at Gratz College's Community Hebrew High School. "I traveled to Israel with my class and made life-long friends. It really made a difference in my life, and I always felt an obligation to give back.

"My parents, Arnold and Mickey Kramer, were always generous donors to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and what was then the Philadelphia Geriatric Center," he continued. "In the 1990s, my dad headed the Endowments Corporation and the board of the Philadelphia Geriatric Center (now the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life). There was a real pull to community support and involvement."

Throughout Karen Kramer's childhood, Shabbat dinner at home with her parents, Jerry and Gwen Blum, was "a given." As a teenager, she was involved in the North American Federation of Temple Youth at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, serving as its president. She also started an Adopt-a-Grandparent program at the former PGC.

Some 18 years after they met, the couple made an endowment gift via an insurance policy through the Federation Endowments Corporation. They are also members of its Legacy Society at the Jaffa Gate level, made up of individuals and families who have made planned or endowment gifts of $100,000 or more.

"As successful young adults, it was important for us to make a commitment to the future," explained Bill Kramer. "We hope to lead by example and interest others in our age group to endow a gift. We are young and healthy, so the cost of the policy was moderate, and will be paid off in 10 years."

In addition, both Kramers will continue their annual gift: she through a Lion of Judah endowment, and he through the family's fund, which also provides a yearly gift to the Abramson Center, Temple Sinai and the B'nai B'rith Foundation.

Learning to Help Others
Karen Kramer is a vice president of Women's Philanthropy, a campaign division of Federation. She also sits on the boards of the Abramson Center and Temple Sinai in Dresher.

An attorney for Aetna, Bill Kramer is a director of the Kramer Family Foundation – administered by Federation – and serves on the Federation Endowments Corporation's board. He's also president of the Upper Dublin Beth Masada B'nai Brith Lodge and heads Temple Sinai's endowments committee.

To help their children know "what it is to give time and raise money to help other Jews," the family volunteers at the Abramson Center, and has packed and delivered groceries for the Jewish Relief Agency, a project of Lubavitch House. They will also visit Israel this December on Federation's Bux-Mont Region family trip to Israel.

"Our kids know that life is not about the latest video," said Karen Kramer. "They really understand that they can make a difference in the lives of people who are less fortunate."



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