May 30, 2024

Raising My Hand

Arielle Welt NextGen Community Leader

Last month, I had the incredible privilege to travel with my fellow Greater MetroWest peers Alex Feinstein, Stef Gordon, Brett Tanzman, and Ben Lehrhoff, as well as 175 other young Jewish leaders from across North America to Uruguay and Argentina as part of the JFNA Cabinet Mission. Cabinet is JFNA’s Young Leadership Program – a five-year program comprised of a group of dynamic and engaged leaders in their 30s and 40s who come together to learn, share, and grow. It’s an amazing network and a great source of motivation!  

Though I’ve participated in Cabinet retreats where we gather in a North American city to hear from fellow Cabinet members and national lay leaders about Federation impact, this was my first mission as part of Cabinet where you get to see first-hand the results of our efforts and experience other diaspora Jewish communities at the same time.   

The Jewish communities in Argentina and Uruguay are home to nearly 200,000 Jews. It’s the largest concentration of Jews in Latin America, and the third largest in the Americas, after the U.S. and Canada. While we traveled so far away, the Jewish community in Buenos Aires felt similar in so many ways to ours – it’s active, vibrant, and diverse, and they are experiencing many of the same feelings as we are as diaspora Jews in the current climate. While there we visited schools, senior housing centers, social service agencies, and more, and gained a deeper understanding of the work we do in collaboration with our partner agencies (JAFI, JDC and ORT) around the world.   

So much of our energy right now is directed toward Israel, and rightly so. But this trip for me was an important reminder that our global community still needs us and requires our attention. It is our obligation to stay connected, develop that sense of world-wide Jewish peoplehood, and experience Jewish pride and joy together.  

I am truly grateful to have this opportunity, particularly at this age and stage of my life. You get to come together in a self-selected group of peers, for many once-in-a-lifetime experiences, alongside a group of people who have all raised their hands and committed their time and energy to a singular purpose – Jewish community. I find myself inspired by the enthusiasm and passion of everyone I have met through my Cabinet experience.  

I’ve had a lot of touch points over the years, since moving “back home” to Livingston and Greater MetroWest, many of which I hadn’t even realized were Federation. But when I stopped and thought about how I could best care for my community, Federation checks all the boxes, on both a micro and a macro level. Federation takes care of my family, the community, and Jews all over the world.   

Especially as I watch current events playing out, it feels increasingly important to me to target my dollars and energy on Jewish causes. If we don’t take care of ourselves as a Jewish people, no one else will. So, as I’ve been offered opportunities to get involved in this organization, I’ve felt both obligated and proud to do so, with Cabinet being an exciting next step in my journey.   

As I finish up my second year, I recognize this program as a wonderful peer exchange, as well as a source of inspiration for the work I am doing at home. Whether sharing best practices, case studies and success stories, or encouraging one another to take a risk and try something new, I am grateful for the opportunity to exchange wins and learnings with my Cabinet classmates across the country.  

It is a privilege to be able to contribute in this way to our community, and to teach my children through example that it’s our obligation to help whenever and wherever we can. One of my biggest inspirations are the women who have come before me. I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had to meet, connect, and learn from the women who have contributed to, and shaped Greater MetroWest in extraordinary ways. I find that it is the coming together of women across generations to take care of our community that keeps me saying yes. 

If you want to learn more about getting involved in NextGen leadership, contact Rebecca Pollack at [email protected]. 

Arielle Welt is the current co-chair of NextGen and joined Federation’s Board of Trustees in 2023. Over the past few years, she has jumped in headfirst into her Federation involvement, participating in Borinsky Young Leadership, NextGen, Women’s Philanthropy, as well as the Moonshot and the Impact Committees. Arielle is also on the National Young Leadership Cabinet and the Women’s Philanthropy Board. At the Federation Annual Meeting on May 30, she was named a 2024 recipient of the Julius and Bessie Cohn Young Leadership Award. Arielle lives in Livingston with her husband Sam and her two children, Gage, age 8 and Marlowe, age 5.