David Bernstein was the Executive Director of the Tulsa Mental Health Association from 1969-1973 and was instrumental in developing the first 24-hour telephone suicide prevention hotline in the Southwest, which evolved into today’s 211 Helpline. He was then Executive Director of the Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa from 1973-1985. While there, he worked on much-needed services for the growing Hispanic and Cuban population that, as immigrants, required housing, language and educational support from the community. These efforts led to the creation of the YWCA’s Multicultural Service Center. Bernstein also helped establish the first coalitions for spousal abuse and child abuse in Tulsa.
David went on to become the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Tulsa in 1985. He has given professional leadership during an exciting time in Jewish history both in Tulsa and worldwide with the release of Jews from Soviet Union in the late 1980s and the rescue of Ethiopian Jewry in 1991.
The Jewish Federation of Tulsa raised funds for the building of a community auditorium in a poverty-stricken area outside of Tiberius, Israel. David also traveled to Israel numerous times to select emissaries to come to Tulsa with their family, learn the culture of Tulsa and teach about Israel to churches and community organizations.
David retired in 2000, but soon returned to the Federation as Director of Community Relations and is active with the minority communities of Tulsa.
Included in the many honors that have come his way was the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission award from the State of Oklahoma.
This interview was conducted before a “live” audience June 13, 2011 at Temple Israel in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Interview with David Bernstein
Müllerhaus Legacy Website Team
Date Created: June 13, 2011
Date Published: April 27, 2012
Photo Credits: Slideshow images from “Good Guys Wear White Hats, The Life of George Nigh” by Bob Burke
Notes: Recorded by John Erling in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Digital Audio Sound Recording, Non-Music.