People A-Z / Leslie Shuman Kramer
Community leader, activist and advocate.
Leslie Shuman Kramer was a dedicated community leader, former attorney and a committed advocate and fundraiser for many causes, especially the fight against cancer.
Born in 1961 in Buffalo, into a large Sokolivker family, Leslie Shuman was educated in the Williamsville school district in the suburbs outside of Buffalo, NY. A trip to Israel and a formative experience on a kibbutz at 14 inspired a life long attachment to Israel and the Hebrew language. She completed her undergraduate studies at Cornell University, including a period of study abroad in Israel at Tel Aviv University. After working in Israel and gaining Hebrew fluency, she returned to Buffalo and studied Law at the University at Buffalo. She worked as a lawyer in Chicago and immersed herself in Jewish community activities, hosting a Russian immigrant family through JFS, and participating in Super Sunday campaigns. She was quickly identified as a future leader, joining the Chicago Jewish Federation’s Young Leadership Board.
Returning permanently to Buffalo, she joined the family firm, now known as Gross-Shuman in 1992, but after marriage to Jim Kramer and the birth of their children, she channeled her legendary energy into a wide range of leadership roles. In the Buffalo Jewish community she held a series of committee and leadership roles on a range of committees and organizations from the JCC Early Childhood committee to co-chairing the education committee at Shaarey Zedek, a forerunner to Temple Beth Tzedek. She co-chaired three AIPAC fundraisers in Buffalo and was a UJA Mission participant. Board potential was quickly identified and she joined Hillel and JFS. Serving both on the board and as VP, she was elected president at the Bureau of Jewish Education, since reimagined as LINK Jewish Buffalo.
It was at the Buffalo Jewish Federation, that Leslie Kramer made an indelible mark, both locally and nationally. Recognizing her leadership skills in other Jewish organizations, the Buffalo Jewish Federation awarded her the Milton and Ruth Kahn Young Leadership Award in 2000. During the 2000s, she volunteered in the Buffalo Jewish Federation program, Jewish Coalition for Literacy, and served as chair of Women’s Philanthropy as well as leading their 2009 and 2010 general fundraising campaigns. She also co-chaired the Lion of Judah in the Women’s Division. She became a leader at the national level in women’s philanthropy too within JFNA National Women’s Philanthropy from 2014. In 2018, she was awarded the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award by National Women’s Philanthropy given to inspiring women in Jewish communities across North America.
Working in all aspects of the broader Buffalo Jewish Federation, she chaired the 2015 and 2016 Campaign for Jewish Buffalo. With strong links to Israel through her parents Irv and Marilyn Shuman, who had spearheaded Project Renewal for Sderot in Western Israel near Gaza in the 1980s, as well as her own personal connections to Israel, she was an ideal candidate to help lead missions to Israel in 2012, 2017 and 2018 under the auspices of the Buffalo Jewish Federation. Serving as president of the Buffalo Jewish Federation from 2018 to 2020 during the start of the Covid pandemic, she maintained and grew connections with Jewish agencies and Jewish organizations as well as Buffalo groups and institutions in innovative ways. Leslie was elected to to lead the Western Galilee Partnership2Gether Consortium in Israel and in Budapest, Hungary.
Apart from her work as lay leader in the Jewish community, Leslie was an active participant in the broader civic life of Buffalo that included volunteerism in Buffalo’s Viva la Casa and Amherst Central School District Board of Education. Having lost family members to cancer, support and advocacy for cancer research became a deep personal commitment. As an avid cyclist she fundraised extensively for the Ride for Roswell for many years, and became a part of the Extra Mile Club.
Leslie Shuman Kramer died at the age of 60 in February 2022, after a courageous battle with cancer. She is buried at Holy Order of the Living cemetery in Cheektowaga, NY.
Ferne Mittelman with Hyman, Charles and Irving Shuman, The Shuman Story: The Life and Times of Peretz Shuman and Chaika Aliotz Shuman. Based on the memoirs of Chaika Aliotz Shuman. Welcome: Buffalo, NY, 2000.
Annual Meeting Address by Buffalo Jewish Federation President, Leslie Shuman Kramer, 2020
Buffalo Jewish Federation: A tribute to Leslie Shuman Kramer, z”l, 2022
This event featured a special video tribute to Leslie Kramer, z”l, a Federation Past President and beloved community member who lost her courageous battle with cancer in 2022. Video directed and produced by Brenda Feldstein.
Obituary and Remembrance
Our thanks to the entire Kramer and Shuman family, Brenda Feldstein, Rob Goldberg and Ellen Goldstein.