Melissa Feldman & Ariel Nelson
Guests of Honor
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Melissa and Ariel moved to Livingston in 2002 and immediately began their relationship with Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School.  As new parents to the community, they joined Synagogue of the Suburban Torah Center in Livingston and enrolled their oldest son Jacob (JKHA ‘12, RKYHS ‘16) in JKHA pre-K.  Soon thereafter, Molly (JKHA ‘14) and Gabe (JKHA ‘18, RKYHS ‘22) followed.  Melissa and Ariel quickly became volunteers in the school and community as well.  Melissa, who was working for Kraft Foods at the time, got the company to be a corporate sponsor of the JKHA/RKYHS’s Kosher Palette cookbook.  Ariel, in turn, brought in a sponsorship from the Herzog / Royal Wine Corp.  
From there, the two continued to get more involved in the Greater MetroWest community, volunteering at the school, the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest, SSTC, Mikvah Chana, The Jewish Community Foundation, and Livingston Township.  Their volunteering led to leadership roles and recognition.  Both Melissa and Ariel were tapped to participate in the Federation’s Arthur Borinsky Young Leadership program.  They were awarded SSTC’s Young Leadership Award in 2008 and later in 2017, Melissa was awarded the shul’s Keter Shem Tov award.  In 2010, Melissa worked with JKHA/RKYHS on its “Inspiring Excellence” branding.  In 2013, Ariel chaired  the JKHA/RKYHS  affordability committee that set the groundwork for JKHA/RKYHS’s Yesodot - Middle Income Max Tuition program. In 2015 Ariel was selected to become a Wexner Fellow and in 2016, he received the Jewish Federation’s Julius & Bessie Cohn Young Leadership Award, he currently serves on the investment committee for the Gottesman Family Supporting Foundation.
In 2020, Ariel and Melissa partnered with RKYHS to found The Seminar on Antisemitism and Racism, in Memory of Eva Nelson.  The program brings RKYHS  juniors and seniors together with black and hispanic peers at St Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark.  Every two weeks throughout the school year, the teens discuss shared and divergent experiences of prejudice from Jim Crow to the Holocaust to modern day.  The program has been lauded by the press, including CBS and NBC News, and attracted the attention of public figures, including Senator Cory Booker, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, and NJ Chief Justice Stuart Rabner.  Now in its third year, the seminar has built bridges between 76 teens to date and is looking to expand.
Ariel and Melissa met as undergraduates at Columbia University.  Ariel earned his MBA from Columbia and Melissa hers from Wharton.  Professionally, Melissa is currently the CEO of Ethical Brands, a gluten free food manufacturer in Red Bank, NJ and Ariel is the COO, Global Head of Revenue Strategy and Operations at Bloomberg Media, in New York City.       
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