Bernard Saul Levy of Newton died Dec. 3. He was 85.

He was born in Baltimore to parent Roger and Anna. His upbringing in the orthodox Jewish community, helping in his father’s store, and participating in Boy Scouts shaped him for life.

He came to Boston to study at Massachusetts Institute of Technology at age 16. He found brilliant minds but chafed at MIT’s role in the military industrial complex and was troubled by the hate preached on the Boston Common. These challenges led him to find lifelong passions: science, sailing, and MIT Hillel. A new chapel opened at MIT while he was a student and he considered it a great honor to carry the Torah to its new ark.

He attended medical school and did an internship at Duke University. He loved caring for patients and practiced until shortly before his death. He did a residency in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital. At Hopkins he met a young pediatrician, Janice Cohen; they married and lived their lives as soulmates and true partners. Jan enjoyed a full career as a physician.

While in public health service, he authored the first scientific paper in the United States on the use of lithium to treat bipolar illness. In 1968, he was recruited by Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School to lead the inpatient psychiatry unit into the new era of a biologic basis of mental illness. Bernie thought psychopharmacology was inadequate by itself as a treatment and focused on combining psychotherapy as well as therapeutic community where the patient was offered a role in their treatment.

He set up the Physician Health Services Program at the Massachusetts Medical Society and charted a course that protected patient safety while also offering physicians rehabilitation.

He loved learning and filled his home with thousands of books and good food in large quantities. He was the first to adopt new technology, to the point where you sometimes had to ask him how to turn on the lights in his house. He could not believe his luck to have a home on Martha’s Vineyard and loved his community there. He loved sailing and teaching his own and other children how to sail.

Bernie faced adversities himself and witnessed suffering but remained optimistic. He searched out the good in every person and the humanity in every situation. He believed he had a responsibility to help wherever and whenever he could.

His greatest joy was his family. He made sure to be home for dinner every night. After they were grown, he spoke to each of his children every day, often more than once. In recent years, he rejoiced in his grandchildren. When he learned he would be welcoming three grandchildren in 11 months, he bought a minivan that he called the Bernie bus.

He lived each day from a place of gratitude. He loved his life and the people in it.

He was predeceased by his beloved wife Janice. He is survived by his children Ed Levy and his wife Julie Tishler, Dan Levy and his wife Sara Cosgrove, and Sarah Levy and her husband Eugene Langner; and his cherished grandchildren Jonah, Ezra, Annabel and Noah, Sam and Josh.

A funeral was held Dec. 6 in Brookline. Shiva will be observed via Zoom on Wednesday, Dec. 8 from 7 to 9 p.m. through Temple Hillel B’nai Torah, and on Thursday, Dec. 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Ed and Julie’s house at 18 Bowdoin street in Newton Highlands. The Ma’ariv service will take place there at 7:30 p.m.

Donations can be made to the Benevolent Society of the Massachusetts Medical Society and/or search out opportunities each day for unexpected acts of kindness or generosity.