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Rabbi Harvey J. Fields

Rabbi Harvey J. Fields

Rabbi Harvey J. Fields, z”l, was a native of Portland, Oregon and graduate of UCLA. He was ordained at Hebrew Union College in 1963, and in 1974 he received his Ph.D. in American Diplomatic History from Rutgers University.

He served our congregation as Senior Rabbi from 1978-1982. During those years he introduced a new prayerbook, The Gates of Prayer, which he assisted in writing and editing. Rabbi Fields emphasized an early Friday night service to encourage families to spend time together around their own Shabbat tables. He also prepared a series of user-friendly prayer pamphlets for each holiday to strengthen home observance of the festivals. He established the Department for Jewish Living at Holy Blossom Temple to animate the congregation with new energy and new young leadership.

From Toronto, Rabbi Fields went on to be the Senior Rabbi of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, where he served for 23 years.

Outside of the pulpit, Rabbi Fields served as President of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, chaired both the Inter-Religious Council of Southern California and the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, and was Founding Chair of the Interfaith Coalition to Heal LA. He co-chaired the new World Union for Progressive Judaism’s Israel Development Commission, served on the Executive Committee of the Israel Policy Forum, and was a member of Rebuild LA and the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Further, he is knowns for his book on prayer, B’chol Le-vavecha — With all your Heart, and for his three-volume, A Torah Commentary for our Times.

Rabbi Fields lived in Los Angeles with his wife, Sybil, and was the father of Debra Fields and Jonathan Silberman, Joel Fields and Jessica Sultan, and of Rachel and Hanan Prishkolnick of Tel Aviv, and the grandfather of Rebecca, Ari, Jeremy, Noa and Amit.

The funeral will take place Sunday, January 26th at 1:00 p.m at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, CA.

May his memory be a blessing.

Condolences may be sent to the family care of:

Wilshire Boulevard Temple

Erika J. Glazer Family Campus
3663 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2798

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Showing 11 comments
  • Richard Levine
    Reply

    I did not know Rabbi Fields personally, but I discovered only recently that Rabbi Fields’ great-grandfather Joseph Nudelman had a connection to my family. My great-great-grandparents came in 1882 to a Jewish Farming Settlement at Painted Woods, North Dakota. This is the same settlement that Joseph Nudelman helped to start in 1882, and my ancestors (Dorfman) homesteaded a plot of land right next to Joseph Nudelman’s farm. Coincidentally, I grew up in Los Angeles near Wilshire Blvd and have been to the Wilshire Boulevard Temple a few times over the years. I am saddened that Rabbi Fields has passed away.

  • Michael Cole
    Reply

    Rabbi Fields was one of the kindest and most considerate people I have known. He was a true gentleman in every respect. When I introduced him to my financee, Josephine, who was new to Canada and to Reform Judaism, he immediately made her feel welcome and comfortable at Holy Blossom. He was also very gracious in letting several of my rabbinical friends co-officiate with him at our wedding. When we and our children visited Los Angeles some years later, he took time out to give us a tour of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. I was sorry to hear of his passing. May his memory be for a blessing!

  • Frank Pulver & Annalee Cohen
    Reply

    The world has lost a, “Mensch.” Harvey Fields was just that! He was a true leader for the Jewish religion and the Reform movement.He always had an infectious smile gracing his face and seemed to have boundless energy in whatever task that he chose to pursue, and there were many! Some of those achievements at HBT have been already been mentioned in other comments. My late wife, Sylvia & I had the great pleasure of becoming close personal friends of the entire Fields’ family. We shared many religious, family and social events with them.It was my pleasure to be the Pediatric Dentist for their three children while the lived here in Toronto. Harvey and I were approximately the same age (although I was 4 months his senior}. I always made it a point of calling Los Angeles on August 26th, which was his birthday, in order to speak to him and Sybil. I will miss that!! Rest in peace my very dear friend.
    Frank Pulver

  • Rachel (Fields) Prishkolnik
    Reply

    On behalf of the Fields family, who are reading and finding your tributes touching and meaningful, thank you. Your memories touch us as we mourn for our dear father, grandfather and husband. We have very fond memories of HBT and so many of you in Toronto and we thank you for your stories and memories that you are sharing with us here.

    • Cheryl Devor
      Reply

      Rachel – I was so sad to hear of your father’s passing. I have very fond memories of your family when you lived down the street from us on Rosemary Lane. My thoughts and prayers are with you & your family.

    • Rabbi Yael Splansky
      Reply

      Dear Rachel and Family,
      I’m so glad these memories are reaching you. Your father is remembered well here at Holy Blossom Temple. We walk past his photograph on the wall every day. I’m so pleased that Past President of our congregation, Richard Krelstein, who has lived in Los Angeles for many years now, was able to attend the funeral and represent Holy Blossom Temple.
      May God comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
      Rabbi Yael Splansky

  • Eleanor and Peter Loebel
    Reply

    We are saddened to read of Harvey’s passing. His “erev” home services for Shabbat and all the holidays have a special place and use in our home. I cherish his book Bechol Levavcha Commentary and still recall those expert lectures on The Middle East . We will always remember Rabbi Harvey J. Fields with affection.
    Our sympathies to his Family, Eleanor ( Ellie ) and Peter Loebel

  • Morris Cooper
    Reply

    Our family had an interesting (to us) connection to Rabbi Fields while he was Senior Rabbi at HBT. He presided at our first daughter’s baby naming (Jessica) in May 1981. We had joined Temple as a young couple in the late 70’s just before Rabbi Plaut retired. I remember vividly going to speak to him and the Senior Rabbi’s secretary, Margaret Davidson (an intimidating woman) to ask about a baby naming. Rabbi Fields told her to arrange for us to come up to the bimah for an aliyah on Saturday morning Shabbat services in the Sanctuary, which Miss Davidson objected to as not being the protocol. He told her, rather firmly, to arrange it, as that was what he was going to do.
    And so our baby Jess began her life breaking new ground, and she has continued to do so ever since.
    I am sure he will be missed, and remembered.

  • Phyllis Wintraub
    Reply

    Rabbi Field’s passing is a great loss, not just to his congregation, but to our’s as well. One cherished, tangible remembrance of his time as our Rabbi was the pamphlets that he created for home observance of the holidays. To this day in our home their wine stains attest to their having been used and re-used. From year to year they have enhanced each “chag” with their beautiful readings and prayers. My set has each child’s chosen reading marked beside it, which changed as they grew more proficient in both English and Hebrew.

    I wish that each Temple family could have a set of these pamphlets, and think it would be a fitting tribute to Rabbi Field’s time here as Senior Rabbi that they be republished so that they could be as treasured today as they have been to our family for so long.

  • Cantor Beny Maissner
    Reply

    Let me add my few sad sentiments to the passing of my dear friend, Rabbi Harvey Fields.

    I arrived at Holy Blossom in July of 1979 and it was Rabbi Field who brought me up to serve our congregation as Cantor.

    We worked together until he left in 1982. Rabbi Fields had a clear vision of a comprehensive world of Jewish liturgical music in worship. Rabbi Fields helped me personally to adopt my traditional upbringing and background to serve the congregation to the best of my ability and fuse the old with the new. Harvey was a poet, a painter and his Neshamah responded to the highest level of artistic expression. Harvey encouraged me to bring the best of accessible Jewish music to the congregation and stressed the importance for congregational participation. Together we were able to built a friendly worship style to Shabbat, Festivals and High Holy Days, the traditions which radiate to this day in our midst.

    Harvey, Sybil and their three kids became close friends to me and mentors to our family and children. We spent and celebrated many personal moments in our lives. Our close bond never ceased and we are sorry to see him leave our community.

    “Yehi Zichro Baruch” May his soul be for a blessed memory,

    Beny

  • Conor & Michele Shalloe
    Reply

    So sorry to hear of Rabbi Fields passing. The world is a better place because of him. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family.
    Conor, Michele and Children.

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