Jack Oelbaum

This profile of Jack Oelbaum was written by Daniel Rubin, a 10th grade student,  in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of MetroWest in 2002.

Jack OelbaumJack Oelbaum says to “follow your heart” and throughout his life Oelbaum has tried to follow his own.Oelbaum, 93, was born on New York’s East Side. Soon after his birth, his family left for Germany where they stayed for five years (1909-1914). Returning just before World War I, Oelbaum faced many difficulties. He was unable to speak English well and was often chastised by his peers for being German, although he was really an American.

Oelbaum was accepted to New York University where he proceeded to study business but had an interest in poetry. One day a drama professor came to him and asked him to play a role in a production they were putting on. Oelbaum accepted and that began his avocation as a playwright and actor. Throughout his life Oelbaum would write numerous plays including Joan of Orange, All Else is Commentary andNot a Crime in Town. Oelbaum believes that “writing is a great discipline” and to this day he tries to keep that discipline. He writes a column in the William Margulies Senior Center Newsletter entitled Jack’s Corner.

Oelbaum graduated from NYU and obtained a degree in business and he then went on to work in retail for 45 years, owning a group of Five & Dime stores. Oelbuam married his wife Freda in 1933 and had one son, Michael, who is a professional classical pianist. 

Oelbaum also has worked hard for the Jewish community. He has belonged to Temple B’nai Abraham since 1940. He has worked in their theater group, belonged to the Men’s Club, and served on the Board of Directors.

Oelbaum plays a very active role in JCC MetroWest. He attends as many meetings of the Margulies Senior Center as he can and teaches a Current Events class. Also, Oelbaum has participated in the Intergenerational Impact Theater. He believes that the JCC provides a place where seniors can meet with their contemporaries, find someone to listen to them when no one else is around, begin new friendships and participate in many interesting programs. Oelbaum believes “without this place [the JCC] there would be nothing to look forward to.” He would like to thank JCC MetroWest staff members Gina Goldman, Sylvia Jassie and Sharon Gordon who he believes are “wonderful and very committed” in their work with the Senior Center.

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