With her PhD in education, Marlene brought her considerable expertise to a recent Federation educators conference aimed at making Jewish education more dynamic and engaging for students.
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Marlene Herman grew up in a tightknit Jewish family that not only included her grandparents but also her great-grandparents. She focused her university studies on education and earned a doctorate. With a family of activists, Marlene learned from a young age about the importance of working to better the community and not being a bystander. Early on she fought against anti-Semitism and worked to aid the vulnerable, Holocaust victims, and Israel and Jews living overseas.
These experiences and values of promoting justice from Marlene’s earliest days are what keep her connected, and dedicated, to Jewish Federation.
Among Marlene’s most significant Federation memories is a mission to Israel. She enthusiastically recalls the joy she felt seeing five Federation buses full of fellow Federation supporters on the mission – the entire group reveling in the feeling of being “home among family” and seeing, first-hand, the impact of their Federation support.
A lifelong supporter and believer in women’s philanthropy as an instrument of change, Marlene views women as community shapers dedicated to making the world a better place community by community. She was a member of Pioneer Women, an international Jewish organization established in the early 1920s. With Federation, she is a proud Lion of Judah, a women’s philanthropic honor society with thousands of global activists who make a continuing annual gift of $5000 or more.
A longtime board member, Marlene has been involved with Federation for more than forty years. She was a member of the Raritan Federation before it became Middlesex, and she served as president. She gives her time tirelessly and uses her formidable skills as a fundraiser to ensure, even through these difficult times, that Federation can help support the community. Marlene is also chairperson of the Federation’s successful Life & Legacy initiative, which promotes after-lifetime giving, something that is a vital part of securing a strong future for the generations to come.
Marlene especially values Federation for its ability to be a communal resource for children and their families. She highlights Federation’s work with PJ Library, which brings joyful Jewish learning, traditions, and communal connections to life for young children and their families, noting that PJ Library provides a safe, neutral ground that fosters connection among all Jews regardless of denomination.
Finally, Marlene notes, by managing the community’s network of service providers in health, education, and welfare, Jewish Federation ensures the community receives the best possible services.
Marlene and her husband, Edward, are longtime residents of Edison. They have four children: Lainie (husband, George Fiszer), Marc (wife, Wendy), Jason (wife, Jocelyn), and Tobi (fiancé, Walter Remsky). Marlene and Edward have eight grandchildren.