Grow Jewish Tulsa

Consider Tulsa --- and Shalom

Ours is a warm community (Sadly, you can believe the weather reports you heard from here last summer) with much to offer you and your family.  You may have discovered that Tulsa is nationally ranked on several quality of life measures. We can also offer your some surprises. According to the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce (also nationally ranked), Tulsa is the:

·         #1 place to live in the U.S. (Relocate America)

·         #1 metro for cost of living (Business Facilities)

·         #2 city for jobs for young people (check out this recent story:

·         #2 housing market (MSNBC)

·         #4 metro for quality of life (Business Facilities)

·         #4 state for employment (Business Facilities)

·         #8 city for young adults ( 2010)

·         2nd shortest commute time in the nation

·         City with a cost of living index 8.6 % below the national average and

·         15th in the nation for the highest high school graduation rate





Some things that make our Jewish community special include: 


·      B’nai Emunah (Conservative), Chabad and Temple Israel (Reform) congregations

·      The multi-program Zarrow Campus that houses the Jewish Federation of Tulsa (JFT), Charles Schusterman Jewish Community Center, Mizel Jewish Community Day School, Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art and Tulsa Jewish Retirement and Health Care Center.

·      A thriving BBYO (AZA and BBG) program

·      A free summer trip to Israel for every Midrasha (religious school) graduate and

·      Support for every youngster interested in attending Camp Ramah (Conservative) or Green Family Camp (URJ) - every summer s/he is able to participate.

 Tulsa is a special place with special people. Do not hesitate to contact the JFT ( if you are planning a visit. We will be happy to introduce you to our local institutions, answer questions and help with your move to Tulsa.


Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice

The 2012 Interfaith Trialogue Series, “Food for Thought: Thinking about Food, Religion, and Community,” is scheduled for February 5, 12, and 19. The first session will be held at the Charles Schusterman Jewish Community Center. The topic will be “WHAT IS THE RITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF FOOD?.” This event is FREE to the public. For more information about the OCCJ and the “Food for Thought” Trialogue series, visit






Aaron Miller and Grow Jewish Tulsa

In previous columns, we have quoted Twain, Berra, Churchill (erroneously), Santayana and Darwin. So, who in blazes is Aaron Miller?


Some of you know. You have worshiped with him, introduced him around town or welcomed him to your home for Shabbat, Passover, Hanukkah, High Holy Days and Sukkot. He’s a 20-something native of Chicago’s Highland Park and a graduate of Michigan with a degree in Metropolitan Strategic Development. He is also a Teach for America Fellow working with local kids at Clinton Middle School. What makes him most notable however, at least as far as GJT is concerned, is that he’s planning to stay in Tulsa once his Teach For America assignment is complete. He is helping to grow Jewish Tulsa.


We talked recently about his plans.  As the father of daughters living hundreds of miles away, I had to ask why he wasn’t going back to Chicago, Ann Arbor, Dallas or Indianapolis; all cities with friends and family. His observations are instructive and actually quite flattering. We are only paraphrasing his comments but suspect Aaron will be willing to elaborate if asked. In the meantime, we have summarized his observations, which ring true to us anyway.


First, he sees Tulsa as a good place to live with promising career potential. He feels and felt welcomed by the Jewish and educational communities and is impressed with the warmth and giving nature of our people and philanthropies. He sees us as a “… city on the rise” and mentioned a growing social scene downtown, on Brookside and on Cherry Street. He sees a growing number of people committed to making new things happen in Tulsa --- although he suggested that good leaders need good followers and that might be something we need to develop.


He talked about an “energy” and “passion” that many have for Tulsa and more than once, the support he’s felt from the local Jewish community. He likes the modest cost of living and ease of getting around. He believes he can make a difference here and that many people want to help that happen. He believes Tulsa offers him “… opportunity to make an impact” and believes we have a “… capacity for change.”


When asked what he would do to Grow Jewish Tulsa, he challenged us to go out and recruit the best and most promising young Jews we can find for whatever opportunity he can offer. “Tulsa isn’t on anyone’s radar and few if any young people are coming here on their own. You’ll have to go find them” and then sell your strengths.


I asked if his parents are happy with his decision to stay here versus moving back to Chicago. He explained that once he talked about the potential here, they understood the opportunity. It is nice too, to have supportive parents!


Aaron wants to make a personal and professional difference and believes he can have that kind of impact here --- perhaps easier and faster than he might in a larger city. Maybe we have further to go than the Jewish community in larger places but perhaps that very challenge is something we can offer to others.


It’s often said in fundraising that “… all giving is personal.” Aaron made the same case when he said the real attraction here are the people. The BOK Center and ONEOK Field are great and Gilcrease and Philbrook are wonderful assets. He did say he’s a fan of Cain’s Ballroom and that alone ought to make him an official Tulsan. That said, we can each Grow Jewish Tulsa by making a personal connection with our current and new neighbors. That’s what does the trick.


By the way, Aaron mentioned that a number of Teach for America Fellows completing their assignment here are thinking of staying. Apparently, we’re doing a lot of things right with some of our nation’s best and brightest.


Live from the 92nd Street Y - Season 2

Beginning February 29, 2012, Congregation B’nai Emunah hosts the second Tulsa season of 92|Y. You can hear Gloria Steinem on February 28, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on March 15; Madeleine Albright on May 7, and Ruth Reichl and Mark Bittman on June 10. All broadcasts will begin at 7:00 p.m. Contact the synagogue for reservations and more information, which includes a Bittman-style Finger-Food Feast as a season finale. Come on down for a great conversation and treats for those in attendanceCheck out for more information.


Also at B’nai Emunah, you can help and enjoy The Altamont Bakery Project

Dozens of cookies are now going out the synagogue door every week. Look for them at Snow Goose, Aberson's, and other fine retailers. This is our effort on behalf of the formerly homeless mentally ill residents of the Altamont Apartments and other Mental Health Association facilities. Can you deliver cookies to local places of business at noon on Fridays? If so, we'd love to hear from you. Please call Betty Lehman at 918.583.7121. By the by, cookies are now on sale daily at the Synagogue entrance. Two dollars buys you the best cookie you've ever eaten. They're fresh every Wednesday morning.  


Temple Israel Sisterhood Celebration

Join the TI Sisterhood on Saturday evening, March 31, for a festive OUR CHILDREN, OUR FUTURE Dinner and Auction which benefiting the TI Religious School and congregational projects.  There are so many opportunities to help prepare for this event:  auction acquisitions, decorations, set-up, clean-up and more. Madelyn Rosenthal at 918.481.5735 to volunteer and save the date for a fun evening.

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