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Returning Home to My Jewish Community

by Jesse Ulrich

It is funny returning home to the community that helped raise me, where I run into people who have known me at all stages of my life. Some of you might remember me, but for everyone else I should introduce myself. My name is Jesse Ulrich. I was born in Tulsa, graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts in History and then moved to Boston in 2005 where I received a Master of Arts in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. After finishing at Brandeis, I spent the last 10 years working for a multitude of different Boston Jewish non-profits. I worked for a Conservative Synagogue, a Jewish Arts & Culture organization, Hebrew College (a pluralistic Rabbinical and Cantorial university), and spent the  past two years working as the Manager of Content for JewishBoston.com, the digital
home for Boston Jews that is supported and financed by Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the Jewish Federation of Boston.

I used to joke that the TJCC, as I still call it, is the closest thing to a second home I had in Tulsa. I went to Heritage Academy here. I went to Camp Shalom here. I spent my weekends here, either during my time in BBYO or just hanging out while my dad worked on the Tulsa Jewish Review. When my wife, Michelle, and I began our plans to move back home from Boston, the old ‘TJCC’ was not the place where I thought I would land. But it feels wonderful—and really prophetic— that I am here—again.

In my new role as Director of Holocaust Education and Community Relations, I get to live the Jewish value of zikaron, remembrance of the past, but also to help the Tulsa Jewish community build for the future. Our community here is small, but I feel we are surrounded by religious and cultural communities that are not only curious about us but who are perfect partners in our desire to make Tulsa a
beautiful place in which to live.

I look forward to continuing our relationships with school districts around the state as they educate their students about the Holocaust, as well as helping Tulsa remember and deal with its own violent history. I am a strong advocate for studying history: our history, America’s
history, and our state’s history. It is from history that we learn not only about the past, but also about why people think andact—and react today.

Whether it is through The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art or the Jewish Federation of Tulsa, I intend to engage in and with the greater Tulsa and Oklahoma communities, both religious and communal, in the role I have been playing since I was a child here: a representative  of our vibrant Jewish community to the greater Tulsa community.

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