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About Us

Agudath Israel Etz Ahayem Synagogue embodies the union of a spiritual and organizational merger in 2001 between two congregations, each rich in their own histories and heritage; Agudath Israel, a conservative synagogue, established in 1902 - and Etz Ahayem, a Sephardic congregation established in 1912.  We are uniquely suited to welcome Jews of both Ashkenazic and Sephardic backgrounds, as well as people from other traditions.


Agudath Israel was established as an Orthodox synagogue in 1902 by Yiddish speaking Ashkenazi Jews who were recent Eastern European immigrants. After renting quarters for a number of years, the congregation purchased its first permanent building on Monroe Street in 1914, and constructed a new building at McDonough and High Street in 1928.


Agudath Israel came to national attention in 1955 because of the Civil rights movement activism. In 1957 it constructed its current building on Cloverdale Road, and joined the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.


Etz Ahayem, was established in 1912 by Ladino speaking Sephardi Jews, particularly from Rhodes. The congregation grew slowly, and completed construction of its first building in 1927. In 1962 the congregation moved to a new building, but by the 1990s membership had dwindled, and all members also maintained joint membership with AIEA or Temple Beth Or.


Our present location, built in 1957, contains a large sanctuary, chapel, libraries, social hall, newly remodeled gift shop, mikvah, offices and a kosher kitchen. The separate remodeled educational wing contains classrooms, libraries, a large group room, offices and a playground.



Rabbi Scott Kramer was born in Baltimore, Maryland and raised in a liberal Orthodox Jewish home. He attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore Country and in 1978 received a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Physics. Pursuing his post-graduate work, he moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he attended the University of Utah and in 1982 received a Master’s Degree in Physics.


While studying for his Master’s Degree, Rabbi Kramer met the love of his life, Irene Elizondo, who was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. They were married in 1980. Rabbi Kramer and Irene have 3 children, Joel, Justin and Adena. 


After receiving his Masters, Rabbi Kramer entered the emerging software engineering field where he was employed in the Aerospace, Material Handling and Telecommunications industries for over 21 years. While working as a software engineer, Rabbi Kramer became very active in his local synagogue in Salt Lake City, Utah, Congregation Kol Ami. There he volunteered for virtually every open position. He found that the time he spent volunteering at the synagogue was the most rewarding hours of his day. He then developed an interest in taking on an expanded role as a lay leader in the community. He started developing his skills as a service leader and then found a program (IMUN) sponsored by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism that actually provided further education and support for this endeavor. 

In February, 2002, Rabbi Kramer pursued his dream and applied to the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism) in Bel Air, California. He was accepted to the program and started school in August of that year. Rabbi Kramer spent the five years in this program engrossed in the study of Talmud, Bible, Codes of Jewish Law, Jewish History, Philosophy, Pastoral Counseling and Jewish Education to name but a few. While at Ziegler, Rabbi Kramer had the pleasure of being able to travel and live in Israel for a year, as well as to attend and lead congregations in Munich and Berlin, Germany and various cities in the United States.


He also had the distinct honor of being part of a project to bring a Bar Mitzvah experience to 60 Siberian children in Novosibirsk, Siberia in the summer of 2006. Rabbi Kramer further honed his rabbinic skills as an intern at Congregation Beth Shalom in Modesto, California. After 5 years of study, Rabbi Kramer was ordained on May 21, 2007.


In July of 2007, Rabbi Kramer accepted the position of Rabbi at Agudath Israel Etz Ahayem in Montgomery Alabama and has been their Rabbi to the present time.  Rabbi Kramer is also a chaplain at the Maxwell Air Force Base Federal Prison Camp where he ministers to Jewish inmates. 


Rabbi Scott Kramer



Barbara Handmacher



Tina McManama

President Elect / Vice President, Fundraising


Rick Richburg

Immediate Past President


Jerald Labovitz

Financial Secretary


Emily Allen

Vice President, Education


David Zaslawsky

Vice President, Membership                            


Dickie Blondheim

Building & Grounds Maintenance


Joy Blondheim

Phil Ensler

Chris Ginsburg

Kathy Hess

Elaine Kirkpatrick

Ira Kupferberg

Bert Shephard

Fern Shinbaum

To contact board members, please send an email to:

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