Harvey Joseph Helsel
(Born November 12, 1926 , Springfield, MA – Passed February 21, 2017, La Jolla, CA at age 90)
On display in the Foster Family Chapel at Beth Israel are two prints by the late internationally known artist Leonard Baskin. The 4 Mystics (1952), and View of Worcester (1953) were made when Baskin lived in Worcester, MA. The prints were generously donated to Beth Israel from Harvey Helsel’s Estate by his son Charles and daughter Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi. The donation is fitting and consistent with Harvey’s giving nature, regular attendance and dedication to Beth Israel’s lay led minyan which hosts weekly Shabbat Services in the Foster Family Chapel. Harvey was an original member of the minyan.
Harvey’s life is a model of dedication to family, community, and the arts. In 1954, he married Randi Modell Helsel, his late wife of 50 years in New York. Their son Charles was born in 1958 and daughter Sharon in 1960. They moved to La Jolla, CA in 1975. Harvey attended public school in New York City, graduated from James Madison High School in Brooklyn, and earned a degree in business from Columbia University. He served in the United States Army Air Corps, worked in New York as a salesman in his family’s corrugated container business, and later as a salesman in his wife’s family’s diamond business. After moving to La Jolla he owned a printing business, dealt in real estate, and later managed Randi’s practice as a therapist.
An avid golfer and swimmer Harvey enjoyed nature walks with Randi, Sharon, and Charles. Sharon recalls Harvey would stop to point out beautiful flower buds, an interesting pattern in the bark of a tree, the curl of a fern, and the colors of a cloud.
His interest in natural surroundings was complemented by his enthusiasm for music, painting, and sculpture. He introduced Charles and Sharon to opera, painting, and music by visits to the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, Leonard Bernstein’s programs for children at Lincoln Center, live performances of classical music by accomplished artists, live symphony and chamber music performances, and listening to live Saturday morning Metropolitan Opera live radio broadcasts. Sculptures, prints, and art books prominent in his residence displayed a cultured and developed taste for diverse works.
Harvey and Randi had good voices and sang at services, family holidays and gatherings. He regularly attended services in New York, and La Jolla. He was a frequent participant in temple life and in social events in the larger community.
Harvey welcomed newcomers to the Beth Israel minyan and made them feel wanted. He had a indomitable spirit helping him to carry through debilitating and catastrophic medical procedures in the last year of life. Fastidious about his personal appearance and dress he gave the ultimate gift of his body to the University of California at San Diego to further the learning of medical students.
In life and in spirit Harvey’s manner, kindness, and dedication is an inspiration and shining example of life well lived.
The photograph shown was taken after a minyan service in June 2013 is of Harvey on the far right, his son Charles to Harvey’s left, his niece and daughter of his brother Stan, Jane Best, to Charles’ left, and Stanley Helsel, Harvey’s younger brother on the far left.
By: Leonard Krouner