Arielle Geismar, 18


What you do:

I’m 18 years old, a Jewess, fierce activist and organizer. This past year, I took a gap year after high school to focus on social justice work. I lived in D.C., and worked on the Hill doing gun violence prevention work, serving as the national organizer and executive council member of Team ENOUGH. I also serve as the associate director of GenZ Girl Gang, an experiment in community building in the digital landscape in the time of a generation born and raised online. I care deeply about gun violence prevention, mental health and women’s equity. On my personal digital platform, I run daily self care check-ins, asking participants how they are, how they’ve been sleeping, etc. With this digital project, I’m committed to helping people with their mental health, especially through quarantine. Every day, I practice speaking my mind and standing up for what I believe in as a Jewish woman.

Unexpected fun fact:

I make embroidery! I make people, quotes, animals and other beings. (I have a few posted on my Instagram.)

Quote you live by:

A personal mantra: A flower blooms regardless of the garden it’s in.

How does your Jewish identity/Jewish values influence the work that you do?

I consider my activism an extension of the way I practice Judaism — by standing up for the causes I hold true and just. My Jewish values are guided by the understanding and deep comprehension of what happens when people are silent about the issues that matter to me. I see it as my responsibility as a Jewish person to speak my mind about injustice that I see and to advocate for my people. For example, in my gun violence prevention work, I care not only because I’m a young person but because I’m Jewish. When I see instances of hate crimes and attacks committed against Jewish people, I feel a moral obligation guided by my Jewish upbringing to protect and advocate for Jewish people. In the instances of Chabad of Poway, Calif., and Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, I continue to understand the violence and hatred connected to what it means to be Jewish in this world. I refuse to let that be. I’m committed to building a safe future for not just Jewish folks but for all in need of safety from persecution. I get my inspiration from my Jewish grandparents. Their stories are meaningful and inspirational. Whenever I speak to them, I’m reminded about the long-standing tenacity of the Jewish people and feel a responsibility to keep our community strong. I’m appreciative of their wisdom and their love.

What do you consider unique or innovative about what you do?

Being Jewish is not a part of my activism, I am an activist because I am Jewish.

Follow me: @ariellegeismar on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook