Rabbi Leonard Alfred Helman, 86, a popular and respected Reform rabbi, lawyer and Gold Point Master bridge player, passed away June 6, 2013, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Memorial services were held June 10 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Interment followed at Santa Fe Memorial Gardens Cemetery.
Rabbi Helman was born in 1926 in Hartford, Conn., to Anna and Abraham Helman.
He served in the US Army, 1946-1947, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Trinity College in Harford in 1948.
He graduated HUC in Cincinnati with honors and was ordained in 1955.
From 1955-58, Rabbi Helman did graduate studies in theology at the Hartford Seminary Foundation and pursued rabbinic graduate studies at HUC-JIR Los Angeles, while serving congregations in those cities.
In 1970, he earned his law degree from Duquesne University School of Law, and received a Doctorate of Honorary Letters from HUC.
Rabbi Helman served congregations in several cities before arriving in Santa Fe in 1974 as spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom.
He remained there for 17 years. From 1986-1991, he encouraged an Orthodox congregation to flourish within the temple.
Read Rabbi Hillel Goldberg's tribute, "View from Denver: Rabbi Leonard Helman (Santa Fe)"
In 1991, he accepted the pulpit in Mc- Keesport, Pa., followed by a congregation in Alabama.
Rabbi Helman returned to Santa Fe in 1995 at the request of Beit Tikva, where he remained the founding rabbi for life.
He was on a first-name basis with countless youth, Jewish and non-Jewish, in Santa Fe.
An attorney and hearing officer for the New Mexico Public Service Commission from 1974-1981, he was the administrative law judge for the New Mexico PSC, 1981-1987, and chair of the Association of Public Utility, 1989-1991.
He was very proud of his position as the New Mexico Legislative Chaplain, 1975-2010.
A Gold Point Master bridge player, Rabbi Helman won several national championships and captained the team that won the Polish National Championship in 2006. He played bridge all over the world.
Rabbi Helman’s professional interests included medical bio-ethics, the Ministerial Alliance, Interfaith Council, Santa Fe Rotary Club, Saint Elizabeth’s Homeless Shelter and Hadassah.
He endowed scholarship prizes at six university and educational institutions.
Rabbi Helman is survived by his sister Lila Abramson; nephews Alan, Steven and Michael Abramson and niece Robin Abramson; and grand-nieces and grand-nephews Elijah, Isaiah, Elyse and Olivia Abramson and Benjamin Abramson Wilson.
Contributions may be made to Congregation Beit Tikva, PO Box 24094, Santa Fe, NM, 87502; or the charity of choice.
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