The music of the multi-talented “Divas on the Bima” filled the halls of Shirat Hayam on June 30 as a special tribute to Lynn P. Kramer. The concert, coordinated by Charles Kramer, his children, Michele Kramer Sloane and Mark Kramer, and event chair Joe Handler sold out, with 375 people in attendance.
Lynn Kramer, who grew up in Atlantic City and was a member of Shirat Hayam, passed away on March 1, 2021. Charles Kramer believes his wife “would have been humbled that so many people came to support and remember her.” He added, “I know she would be thankful for the time and dedication of Joe (Handler) and others who helped plan and make the night a success.”
Divas on the Bima last performed at Shirat Hayam in 2012 and they have played only three other shows during the pandemic. The talented women who serve as the Divas on the Bima include Cantor Jen Cohen, Cantor Alisa Pomerantz-Boro, Cantor Elizabeth Shammash, and Cantor Magda Fishman. They are accompanied by Musical Director Scott Stein and his trio.
Joe Handler kicked off the night by joining the “Divas” for their opening number. Part of the Divas’ act includes Fishman singing and playing the popular song “What A Wonderful World” on trumpet, Pomerantz-Boro singing “I’m A Hazzan,” her parody of the song “I’m A Woman,” and the Hebrew prayer “Mo Dim.”
The cantors also sang musical theater songs “Wicked” (“Defying Gravity” in four-part harmony and “For Good”), the Hebrew prayer “Ma Tovu,” which featured Shirat Hayam’s Reform Spiritual Leader Cantor Jacqueline Menaker and Cantor Harvey Wolbransky, and a selection of songs from popular music songwriters such as Carole King and Carly Simon.
The concert was bittersweet for the Kramer family. Michele Kramer Sloane shared, “Due to Covid, we did not have the opportunity to memorialize my mother in person with the community. The show was an important chance for us to publicly recognize her legacy with others.”
The Kramers had many leadership roles at local organizations, contributed philanthropically, and operated a successful business, Kramer Beverage Company. Kramer Sloane said in an earlier interview in the Voice, “We were always taught to be charitable, be responsible and have a strong work ethic. While my brother went into the family business, I’ve spent my career in the Jewish nonprofit world. I think that with both of our professional roles, my mom’s example as a role model has helped us exemplify these attributes.”
Helping orchestrate this program was a meaningful experience for Handler, who is often involved in event planning for Shirat Hayam. “The impetus for starting the first Summer Concert Series for the synagogue has been to offer people the opportunity to be entertained in their own community and realize how much it has to offer.” Fundraising is an important goal for the shul and to Handler. He shared, “This fundraising idea came to me as a way to help develop new programs and opportunities for our membership and to welcome our Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, and Voorhees friends to become part of our Shirat Hayam family.”
This is a concert that Handler, like the rest of the audience, will not soon forget. “I’m especially grateful to Cantor Jen Cohen (Temple Beth Sholom in Cherry Hill), Cantor Alisa Pomerantz-Boro (Cong. Beth El in Voorhees), and Leah Wolf (Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey), for their generosity in helping make our first concert a success. Divas on the Bima is an amazing group of talented women cantors who have created a program for all people to enjoy their gift of spiritual, Yiddish, and contemporary music,” expressed Handler.
After the concert ended, the Kramer family came up to the stage and were presented with two special gifts. The first, a signed copy of the cover art for the concert, and the second, a picture created by Judaica artist Joanne Fink.
The warm orange glow of the sunset that lit the bima from the sanctuary windows matched the glow of the strong eternal flame, the Ner Tamid. Sitting in the audience, it was impossible not to feel thankful and at peace surrounded by the community on such a beautiful night. Shirat Hayam means “Song of the Sea” and the evening was certainly filled with exceptionally beautiful songs set among the backdrop of majestic waters.
The committee members for the event included Jodi and Joe Handler (Chair), Meryl and Steve Baer, Norma and David Blecker, Michele and Noah Bronkesh, Ronnie and Barry Cohen, Deena and Jim Dine, Sheila and Alan Friedman, Judy and Lenny Galler, Rabbi Gordon and Elaine Geller, Andi and David Goldberg, Linda and Mitch Gordon, Charles Kramer, Mark Kramer, Ellie and Rabbi Jonathan Kremer, Linda and Cantor Ed Kulp, Sue and Rob Lang, Cantor Jacki and Mitch Menaker, Iris and Marc Needleman, Patti and Leo Schoffer, Michele Kramer Sloane, and Natlyn and Cantor Harvey Wolbransky.
Shirat Hayam continues its summer concert series on August 11 with the Maccabeats and the multi-talented recording artist Rebecca Schoffer and her band. Tickets can be purchased at shirathayamnj.org/event/shirat-hayam-summer-concert.
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