George and Sadie Kramer of Malden just happened to be alive during some of the most tumultuous times the Jewish people have known. But they did not simply watch and worry; they strived to help in any way they could. Their papers show their dedication to the Jewish community, both within their home town and abroad.
Born in the late 1880s, George in Russia or Latvia and Sadie in Massachusetts, the Kramers married after meeting at their graduation from Tufts University. They later had two children, Eunice and Robert.
George returned to Tufts Dental School, first as a student and then as a professor. As his career advanced, so did his activism. He became president of the Malden Zionist district, raising awareness of the persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe and advocating for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. He organized events, debates, discussions, fundraisers, and lectures by the likes of prominent Zionist activist Elihu Stone and Rabbi Ber Boruchoff, one of Malden’s most respected Rabbis. George went on to work with the United Jewish Appeal, and in 1948 he was given the Award for Distinguished Service to the Jewish People. The United Palestine Appeal also named him a member of their National Council for Palestine.
Sadie was equally committed to the Zionist cause. She was elected president of Malden’s Hadassah chapter and also served as Chairman of Arrangements for the Hebrew Ladies Charitable Society and Chairman of Organization for the New England Region of Hadassah, in which position she organized new Hadassah chapters in Saugus and Wellesley. She helped to organize the 1939 Mercy Dinner, called “the largest Jewish gathering in the history of the city.” The dinner marked the opening of the United Jewish Campaign, where Sadie was president of the Women’s Division.
The collection, with materials in English, Yiddish, and Russian, contains records of the Kramers’ work with the Malden Jewish community from the 1920s to the 1960s. There are also papers relating to George’s dental career and his involvement in the Alpha Omega dental fraternity, as well as to the Kramers’ association with Malden’s Masonic lodges. Documents in the George and Sadie Kramer papers include newspaper clippings; award certificates; invitations and flyers for Jewish community events; and correspondence, some of which connects the couple to significant historical events. One dramatic example is a letter dated April 17, 1945 from Boston Rabbi Joseph Shubow, then serving as a U.S. Army Chaplain in Europe. In the letter, Shubow thanks the Kramers for their praise of the Passover seder he led “in the ‘Schloss’ of that ‘monkey-man’ Goebbels.” Celebrating the “festival of freedom” in the Nazi propagandist’s chateau was “almost making pesach in the palace of the Pharaohs,” Shubow wrote, before expressing “the hope that we shall all soon meet again, very soon, in victory, good health and lasting happiness.”