Philanthropy head pledges broader support
Staff Writer, New Jersey Jewish News
Anna Fisch is interested in tzedaka — as is fitting for the new president of Women’s Philanthropy of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ. But her goals do not begin and end with dollar signs.
While Fisch, who assumed her post in July, has set a goal of increasing donations by at least 10 percent over last year’s $6 million-plus, it’s the quantity of givers and the quality of their connection to Women’s Philanthropy that have drawn her focus.
“I want to combat the trend of diminishing numbers of givers,” said Fisch in a phone interview. “I really want to deepen the understanding and awareness of what we do in the community. I want to lower the barriers for women in the community to get involved, and I want to dispel outdated ideas of the type of person who gets involved and spread my belief that being involved — if you’re talking about women — is not instead of being part of a temple community or a geographic Jewish community or any other organization but is, rather, a very powerful way to build community.”
Fisch brings a deep personal commitment to poverty issues, homelessness among them, to her new position. She holds a degree in not-for-profit management, and served as executive director of the now defunct Children’s Hope Foundation and as New York City director of the Bridge Fund. She turned her attention to Jewish philanthropy back in 1996, shortly after moving to the area, and chose to concentrate on women’s giving in particular.
At Women’s Philanthropy, Fisch previously served as vice president and sat on the campaign cabinet. A recent graduate of the Jerry Waldor Institute-Wexner Heritage Program, she serves as a member of the board and the executive committee of UJC MetroWest.
She has also applied her expertise to the leadership of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, where she is a member and a founding cochair of the tikun olam committee. She also serves on the board of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Outside the Jewish community, she is involved with the SLE Lupus Foundation in New York.
She finds the timing of her taking the reins of Women’s Philanthropy, coinciding as it does with the 75th anniversary of the department, particularly inspiring. “I feel really proud to follow in the strong, intelligent, generous footsteps of women in this community who have done such amazing work for the Jewish people,” she said.
This year, she plans to bring back CHOICES, the Women’s Philanthropy fund-raiser that she chaired twice in the past, and she is particularly looking forward to the International Lion of Judah Conference in November and the Heart to Heart National Women’s Mission to Israel in February.
Fisch lives in Short Hills with her four children, Benjamin and Rebecca, both 15, and Melanie and Andrew, both nine.