Celebrating 25 years at Gesher Jewish Day School with Beverly Kramer

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Beverly Kramer. Courtesy Gesher Jewish Day School

Beverly Kramer has worked at Gesher Jewish Day School for 25 years, but she’s been involved with the Northern Virginia institution longer than that.

Decades ago, Kramer’s kids would go across the street from their Alexandria home and act as the students at the pretend school that neighbor Alexandra Schnitzer — daughter of Paul and Elizabeth Frommer who, in 1982, founded Gesher — created in her family’s basement.

In 1997, Kramer, now 68, joined Gesher as an administrator and now oversees the school’s daily financial operations.

On March 4, Kramer, a member of Agudas Achim Congregation, as well as a cadre of other longtime Gesher administrators and staff, will be honored at the school’s 40th anniversary celebration and Purim gala and masquerade party.

Tell us about your journey to becoming part of the Gesher community.

I was born in Chicago. And after college, I moved to the D.C. area and began working for the newly established Federal Election Commission after Watergate. I was a senior paralegal there, not a lawyer, but I had a fascinating career there for 12 years. I met and married my husband, Neal Kramer, and we purchased a home across the street from a pioneering young family who founded Gesher, Liz and Paul Frommer.

I had two kids, and the Frommers had four. And Liz was always talking about Gesher — my kids were still in diapers. And she threw one of their first fundraising dinners, which was in 1989…. And my husband and I went to this and, immediately, we felt that all the people there were so warm and welcoming.

Suddenly, you just felt like you were a part of something. It was an amazing feeling. In 1994, we enrolled our children [at Gesher]. My husband was on the board immediately when we joined, and he was their fund raiser. As husbands will do, they turn to their wives and go, “Can you chair all the fundraising events?”

Which I did — two fundraisers a year for three or four years, and through that experience, I grew to know Gesher: its founders, supporters, teachers, faculty, everything. And eventually, they asked me to join their administrative team, which I did in 1997. And I’ve seen so much and done so much over these years. I’m so proud of Gesher.

What was Gesher like in its early days?

It was very much growing. After Agudas Achim housed Gesher for years, we moved over to the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia, and they were wonderful hosts. They expected us to be there for one year, and we didn’t leave until 2007.

They were very patient, but we had to build out the basement to grow a school, and my husband’s job was to do all the fundraising for the build out, which he accomplished in his term. It was very much a family-oriented school. All efforts were on trying to build the school, build enrollment and build with a view toward one day having our own campus.

At that time, when we first joined, we weren’t accredited. When I worked there, they didn’t even have contracts for the staff. They didn’t have policies or procedures or anything. We were just growing into becoming more professional, which came in time.

What have been some of the biggest changes since then?

I think there’s always been that enthusiasm. Certainly, I’ve always felt it there. Anybody who enrolls their child in a school or supports the school has always done it with a view toward enriching their children with all the values and cultures and traditions of Judaism. That hasn’t changed.

But we have a greater sense of stability and feeling that we’ve accomplished the goal of creating a Jewish day school in Northern Virginia, for sure.

Though you were never a student at Gesher, what has been something you’ve learned during your time there?

The lesson is always to be proactive and think ahead and move forward and streamline. That’s something that we’ve done, and I have to say the pandemic moved us, pushed us very far forward, and I’m so proud of the school for the way it came through the pandemic. I think we were a leading example of what to do during that time.

What has kept you at Gesher for over 25 years?

As always, the people. It’s just such a warm, inviting community, and you feel so welcome there. ■

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