Helen Hyman Davis (Oct. 6, 1930-Dec. 22, 2019) grew up on Long Island before eventually making her way to Connecticut, where she left a legacy in the Jewish community with her husband, Jack.
After getting married in 1954, Jack and Helen moved to Madison in 1956, where there were only a handful of Jewish families. Their family grew to include their sons, Stephen, Russell and Jerry. In the early 1970s, Jack, Helen and a group from Branford purchased a track of land to found and build Temple Beth Tikvah (TBT). TBT is now the Jewish home for many families in the area. Jack, 96, served as the official shofar blower for many years. Their son Stephen has continued the tradition by serving as president of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester.
“That we celebrate her life today in the sanctuary at Temple Beth Tikvah is another accomplishment, the result of an audacious dream she, my dad and others had nearly 50 years ago,” said Jerry Davis at his mother’s funeral. “That we continue to gather here for generations to come was her great hope… that [Temple Beth Tikvah] can evolve to serve the needs of future generations, providing a place of refuge, worship and beauty.”
One of the Davises’ lasting legacies was their work with the Grove School, a residential high school for children with psychological issues. Helen, with a masters in special education, and Jack helped transform the small summer resource into an innovative treatment center that helped thousands of teens.
Their work extended internationally. The Davis family traveled with their sons on exotic trips to the Amazon, Afghanistan, Nigeria and even Iran. Jack and Helen worked with a psychology group in Israel to help those who lost family members in the 1967 and 1973 wars. They traveled to Tehran in the days of the Shah to do work with ORT.
In May of 2019, the Madison Historical Society honored the Davises’ commitment to Madison; through their Davis Realty firm, they worked to develop Madison and preserve the town’s historical buildings. The family foundation helped many local charities and organizations, including the Madison Fire Department, Hand High School, Rotary Club, the Madison Art Mile and the annual July 4th Concert on the Green. In addition, Helen chaired The Country School’s board of trustees, and served as president of Temple Beth Tikvah.