Harold Levine of Westport will be honored by Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County (NS) for 25 years of volunteer service to the community arts organization, including a five-year tenure as chairman of the board. In that capacity, Levine implemented AileyCamp®, an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater program for middle-school students. He will be honored on Sunday, March 10 at 5 p.m. at a special performance of Ailey II of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, at the Westport Country Playhouse.
A native of Manhattan, Levine grew up in an observant Jewish home infused with tikkun olam and the always-present tzedakah box. His uncle, the prominent Orthodox rabbi and American Jewish leader Herbert Goldstein, founded the Institutional Synagogue in Harlem in 1917. After the facility was renamed the West Side Institutional Synagogue and moved to 76th Street on the Upper West Side, Levine would walk his grandmother to services on Saturday morning.
“I would sit there bored as hell but I learned the skill of writing and speaking by hearing my uncle’s sermons,” he recalls.
That experience would eventually lead Levine to create the ad agency Levine, Huntley, Schmidt & Beaver together with TV journalist Chet Huntley. Over its 20-year history, the company received numerous industry awards and was named AdWeek’s 1989 Agency of the Year.
Levine co-founded the Town and Village Synagogue in 1946 when he and his wife Sue moved to Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan and he couldn’t find a nearby synagogue where he could say Kaddish for his father. The building still stands on East 14th Street in a location that Levine helped secure before he and his family moved to Freeport, N.Y. in the early ‘50s.
Their two children grown, Harold and Sue relocated to Westport in the late ‘70s. Harold retired from his ad agency in 1991 and the couple created Public Service Public Relations to help non-profit organizations, which Sue, who died in 2005, managed. Among her first clients was Patricia Hart, a blind musician who founded Music and Arts Center for the Handicapped in Bridgeport, later renamed Music and Arts Center for Humanity, and now Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County.
In 2000, Levine met Marji Lipshez-Shapiro, director of the Connecticut Anti-Defamation League’s anti-bias and diversity-training program, “A World of Difference.” Levine helped bring the initiative to Westport, where it was is still active today.