You should know… Sarah Arenstein

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Photo by David Stuck
Photo by David Stuck

The Great Wealth Transfer is coming, and Sarah Arenstein is ready. According to a study from consulting firm Accenture, over the next 30 years around $30 trillion will be passed down from baby boomers to Generation X and millennials.

That is where Arenstein, a 29-year-old Richmond, Va., native living in Washington, comes in. One of her responsibilities as director of Young Leadership at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is to help advise young Jews in their 20s and 30s on how best to engage in philanthropy. As a certified 21/64 trainer, Arenstein advises families on philanthropic giving as the next generation begins to inherit wealth.


Arenstein graduated in 2009 from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and Judaic studies. Since then, she has worked in the young leadership division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

We recently caught up with Arenstein to talk about the philanthropic values of the next generation of Jewish leaders, witnessing Jewish Ethiopian schoolchildren singing Israel’s national anthem and growing up Jewish in Virginia’s capital city.

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What does your job entail?

My job is to oversee anything related to young adults in their 20s and 30s. I try really hard not to put myself into boxes. Whatever it takes to get young people involved — I’ll do it. I oversee the strategic planning and strategic engagement and leadership development and education and philanthropic cultivation of young adults for the organization.


What does it mean to be a certified 21/64 trainer?

I have been certified by 21/64 to consult and work with families, and advise and counsel them, on philanthropic giving. People are inheriting incredible sums of wealth so they need advisers and they need people to help work with them to figure out how to strategically give their money away. The 21/64 program wrote the book on how to work with families as it relates to philanthropic giving and they train people all across the country on how to do it strategically and thoughtfully. I’ve been trained for Federation to work with families on how to strategically make philanthropic decisions, but also especially how to engage the next generation of wealth inheritors into this process. I focus a lot on working with the next generation, the millennials, people who are in their 20s and 30s, and how to engage them and their family philanthropies.

What are some of the differences between the next generation of Jewish philanthropists and the previous generation?

What the research shows is that whereas maybe our parents and our grandparents gave to causes that tugged at their heartstrings and thought it was a great cause, you see people who are inheriting significant wealth, they want to use their resources to make a positive impact. And they want to be able to measure, see, touch and feel what they’re impacting. So that’s why there are a lot of foundations that have people working for them full time to do due diligence.

Tell us about your involvement with Birthright Israel NEXT?

When I started at Federation I was primarily working as a Birthright Next pro. It was really working to figure out, how do you help translate their experience in Israel on the bus back home? So it’s not just 10 days, it’s about figuring out what will inspire people to get involved. We’ve found that it’s not about picking out the event or program that’s going to attract people and get them excited, it’s about really working with people to figure out what interests them, what they care about, how they want to be involved, and working with them to make it a reality.

What was it like visiting Ethiopia as a teenager?

It was an incredibly life changing experience. It’s pretty powerful being able to walk into a schoolyard in a small village in Ethiopia and see hundreds of young Ethiopian children saying their morning prayers and singing ‘Hatikvah’ — it was incredible.

How was it growing up in Richmond’s Jewish community?

Richmond is small but it’s very historic. There’s a very involved, engaged Jewish community there which I don’t think a lot of people realize. So even though it’s small you have families who’ve been there for generations, and they really love their community. There’s a great JCC. They have a very strong Jewish community. I’m a product of it and I feel very indebted to the Richmond Jewish community for that.

What is your favorite thing about living in Washington?

It makes my job a lot easier that there is such a vibrant young community here. People don’t want to just go to happy hour, they want to be part of the community and they want to be an active part of the community, whatever that means to them. Instead of sitting back and waiting for things to happen, people go out and do.

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