Jim Fleischer, the CEO of AEPi, the Jewish college fraternity, died Oct. 9 at age 52 and was described as a successful leader who had a passion for Jewish causes and the state of Israel.
He was “very infectious with enthusiasm and energy, and Jewish community in his gut – that kind of person,” Ronald Klein, an AEPi foundation board of directors member, told the Columbus Jewish News Oct. 11, from his home in Boca Raton. “You could see even by the pictures, a very warm person, and I think that led to his being a successful leader, whether it was in different roles he took at AEPi or in other things he did in his life.”
Klein is a 1979 graduate of The Ohio State University in Columbus who spent time during college as an intern in the Ohio General Assembly. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives in Florida’s 22nd congressional district and chairs the Jewish Democratic Council of America. He is an attorney with Holland & Knight, working out of the company’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Washington, D.C., offices.
In a statement posted on its website, AEPi said, “Jim fought a courageous battle against cancer for the last three years, but the fight was too much and he passed away yesterday evening surrounded by his family and fraternity brothers.”
Fleischer, a Canton native and 1993 graduate of Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, worked as an AEPi chapter consultant upon graduation before working as a fundraiser for UJA Federation of New York.
“I just felt he knew the Jewish community and the value of AEPi in his gut,” said Klein, who is on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Council and is a Wexner Heritage Foundation Fellow. “AEPi has been sort of a predominant Jewish fraternity for a number of years now. ... There was a lot of responsibility that went with the fraternity moving toward that direction as opposed to some of these other fraternities that became more assimilated, and he was one of the people along with others who felt the Jewish nature of AEPi was so important from developing the next level of community leaders from our Jewish community – young men who at a younger age felt the passion of Israel, felt the passion of Jewish values, and he just obviously took it upon himself to lead in that direction.”
Klein is a member of B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton.
Fleisher owned a printing business on Long Island, N.Y., for nearly 18 years, during which time he was a volunteer chapter adviser and regional governor for AEPi and was elected to the supreme board of governors in 2006. In 2013, Fleischer rejoined the fraternity’s executive staff as its assistant executive director and COO. In 2019, AEPi’s supreme council awarded him the Order of the Lion, the fraternity’s highest honor, for exemplary dedication and service to the fraternity.
“Until he took his last breath yesterday, Jim demonstrated his love for two things above all else: his family and AEPi,” AEPi said in the statement. “Our hearts go out to his wife, Ali, his sons, AEPi brothers Ethan and Spencer Fleischer, and his daughter, Madi. AEPi will always be there for the Fleischer family, and we have already pledged to help support the family.
“Jim’s love for AEPi was unmatched. Those of us who knew him well, knew that there was nothing that energized him more than having the opportunity to meet with undergraduate AEPi brothers, to help them better themselves and their chapters. His commitment to AEPi’s mission, our Jewish communities and Israel are why he devoted his life to our fraternity. We hope that we all use Jim’s life as further inspiration to better our fraternity and our communities.”
AEPi CFO Rob Derdiger will assume Fleischer’s responsibilities in the short term and continue to lead the fraternity operations with the ongoing guidance and support of the supreme board of governors, AEPi said in the statement.
Fleischer is survived by his wife of 26 years, Alison Braun Fleischer; his sons, Ethan and Spencer, his daughter, Madison “Madi”; his father, Frank Fleischer of Canton; his brother, Richard “Rick” of South Euclid; and his in-laws, Roberta and Shepherd Casden of Saugerties, N.Y., and Robert and Ruth Braun of Coram, N.Y.; his brother and sister-in-law, Scott and Andrea Braun of Great Neck, N.Y.; and his loving nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his mother, Barbara, and brother, Randy.
A service was held Oct. 12 at Congregation Beth El Zedeck in Indianapolis.
The AEPi Foundation is raising funds to assist the Fleischer family. For more information and to donate, visit aepi.org/jim-memorial.