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RABBI LEONARD ALFRED HELMAN

Obituary
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RABBI LEONARD ALFRED HELMAN Rabbi Leonard Alfred Helman, 86, passed away peacefully on June 6, 2013 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Rabbi was born in 1926 in Hartford, Connecticut and has had a long and very distinguished career as an ordained Reform Rabbi. He served in the United States Army from 1946 to 1947 and graduated in 1948 Phi Beta Kappa from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. He graduated from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, OH with honors and was ordained as a Rabbi in 1955. From 1955 to 1958 he did graduate studies in theology at the Hartford Seminary Foundation and from 1959 to 1965 did rabbinic graduate studies at Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles Campus, all while serving congregations in those respective cities. In 1970 he received his law degree from Duquesne University School of Law. In 1980 he received a Doctorate of Honorary Letters from Hebrew Union College. He served congregations in West Hartford, CT, South Worchester, MA, San Pedro, CA, South Windsor, CT, and Wheeling, WV, before arriving in Santa Fe in 1974 to serve Temple Beth Shalom, watching that congregation grow over his 17 years as their Rabbi. He left for a congregation in McKeesport, PA in 1991, followed by a congregation in Dothan, AL. But his heart was truly in Santa Fe and so he returned to his beloved home here in 1995 at the request of Congregation Beit Tikva. He became their Rabbi and has stayed their Founding Rabbi for Life until his death. Beit Tikva has grown from 20 families to 150 families under his leadership. He has served all his congregations faithfully with a strong sense of community activity and devotion not only to his congregants but also to the community at large. Rabbi Helman has been actively involved in interfaith activities. Another priority has always been visiting the sick and as a volunteer chaplain, he made daily visits to St. Vincent's Hospital to attend to those in need of spiritual counseling and comfort. Amongst his other accomplishments, he was a lawyer for the New Mexico Public Service Commission as their attorney and hearing officer from 1974 to 1981, administrative law judge for the New Mexico Public Service Commission from 1981 to 1987 and Chairman for the Association of Public Utility as a hearing examiner from 1989 to 1991. Rabbi Helman remained most proud of his position as the New Mexico Legislative Chaplain serving them from 1975 to 2010. His other passions include Gold Life Master bridge player, with 4300 points, winner of several national championships and he captained the team winning the Polish National Championship in 2006. He literally played bridge all over the world and several articles have been written on his bridge accomplishments, besides the articles he himself penned. The Santa Fe Bridge Center is named for him and dedicated to his generosity. What may describe his intellect best is what his dear friend and bridge partner Rabbi Richard Margolis said of Leonard Helman in a Turin, Italy newspaper article written in July of 1998. "Reform Rabbi Leonard Helman of Santa Fe began his theological studies half a century ago in Connecticut. He was fascinated, above all, with Gematria, the science that deduces the significance of words by translating them into numbers, giving each letter a number demonstrating the existence of a hidden meaning in things, even in the Torah. Helman excelled in this as he has a mathematical mind. In the evening during breaks from his studies, his uncle taught him to play bridge. He excelled quickly as he grasped the existence of the secret analogy between the numbers on the cards and their final position on the table. He soon became an expert, playing according to the Kabbalah, even before he became a Rabbi..." Rabbi was also a master chess player, was devoted to doing the NY Times crossword puzzles and was, of course, a dance aficionado, who loved to tap dance and entertain at local restaurants. Other professional interests in Santa Fe have included Medical Bio-ethics, the Ministerial Alliance and the Interfaith Council. He served on the board of the Santa Fe Rotary Club and Saint Elizabeth's Homeless Shelter and participated with numerous other non-profits organizations as both a volunteer and a donor. He was a life member of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. His charitable contributions are numerous and include endowment of scholarship prizes at six university and educational institutions. He is survived by his sister, Lila Abramsom; nephews: Alan, Steven and Michael Abramson; niece, Robin Abramson; and grandnephews and nieces: Elijah, Isaiah, Elyse and Olivia Abramson and Benjamin Abramson Wilson. He was preceded in death by his brother-in-law, Herbert Abramson and his parents, Anna and Abraham Helman. A Funeral Service will be held Monday, June 10 at 11 am at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, 131 Cathedral Place, with internment to follow at Santa Fe Memorial Gardens Cemetery followed by a reception at La Fonda Hotel. Shiva services will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night, June 10, 11 and 12 at 7 pm at Congregation Beit Tikva, 2230 Old Pecos Trail. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Congregation Beit Tikva, PO Box 24094, Santa Fe, NM 87502 or the . Funeral arrangements are under the care of Rivera Family Funeral Home. Rivera Family Funerals and Cremations 417 East Rodeo Rd. Santa Fe, NM 87505 Phone: (505)989-7032 Fax: (505)820-0435 santafefuneraloption.com
Published in Santa Fe New Mexican on Jan. 1, 1900
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417 E. Rodeo Road Santa Fe, NM 87505
505-989-7032
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