Pictured above: Phil and Hannah Adelman with Marc Adelman.
Marc Adelman and Hannah and Phil Adelman aren’t related – but theirs is a very special relationship. Here’s Marc’s brief backstory: He came to the Valley from Philadelphia with his parents and sister in the late ‘70s. He celebrated his bar mitzvah at Beth El Congregation, attended Central High School, Phoenix College and Arizona State University. Happy to connect with the Jewish community here, he volunteered at the JCC, working with groups from preschoolers to seniors.
And then, in 2007, there was the life-threatening accident resulting in his being bedridden and becoming deeply depressed.
In retrospect, Marc says the best part of this horrendous episode of his life turned out to be meeting Hannah. At the time, she already had embarked on the challenge of visiting local senior facilities to conduct services, and Marc was residing at one of them. “He finally got up,” Hannah recalls, “when I convinced him that I needed him at services. He was a tough cookie” she adds, “but I didn’t give up on him.”
“Hannah influenced me to get out of the dark side of my life,” Marc says. After a while, “a very sensitive social worker” assured him that a move to the Beatitudes, a Phoenix adult community, would be a better fit for him. Indeed, Marc’s attitude and physical condition began to improve.
Here’s Hannah and Phil’s story: Married since 1957, they met while in high school in Denver when Hannah invited Phil to a BBG Valentine’s Day dance. It was the start of a longtime life of love and adventure for both of them, including multiple moves during the years when Phil was in the U.S. Air Force. While he was in Vietnam, he had participated in more than 200 rescue missions.
The couple settled in the Valley following Phil’s 1981 retirement. A few years later Hannah realized a longtime goal of owning and operating a donut shop. Hannah’s Donut Shop had a successful nine-year run under her management. The shop, under new ownership, is thriving at the same location in Phoenix on Cave Creek south of Greenway.
Donuts, as it turned out, were not Hannah’s only passion. She and Phil share a dedication and devotion to their Jewish heritage. Affiliating with Temple Beth Israel in Phoenix upon their Valley arrival, Hannah, who had earned a degree in Hebrew and Judaic studies at the University of Utah, was hired to head the Hebrew school. And Phil explains that, “If there wasn’t a Jewish lay leader at whatever base I had been stationed, I would take on the job.” Phil taught at both ASU and DeVry University from the time he left the service until three years ago. His subjects included economics, finance and business.
The Adelmans followed now-retired Rabbi B. Charles Herring from TBI to Temple Kol Ami in Scottsdale, where Hannah joined the staff, their grandchildren have celebrated their b’nai mitzvah and Phil served two years as congregation president. They were honored by the congregation a few years ago for all they do.
Their communal dedication continues to be a work in progress as they keep adding to their 18 years of mind-boggling, calendar-clogging commitment. They conduct Jewish (morning, not Shabbat) services on a rotating basis at nine senior living facilities Valleywide. Each has its own day and time on a monthly schedule, and the experience often is enhanced when Hannah ties in readings for major holidays and “Fun with Yiddish” sessions. Hannah says that Phil is totally supportive. He provides her transportation, helps to research, prepares and assembles all the written materials – and he even is an adept shofar blower!
The Adelmans moved into the Beatitudes about a year ago, after checking out several senior communities. “This is very ecumenical, independent, not for profit, in our price range and an easy commute to Temple Kol Ami,” Phil says. “We saw that we could enjoy maintaining an active and vital lifestyle. And incidentally, we added to the approximately 40 Jewish residents already here.”
One of these residents was Marc Adelman. “Hannah sought me out again,” Marc recalls. “She, and now Phil, are truly inspirational and help me every step of the way. I am feeling great and jump-starting my life.”
Because the Adelmans have had, and continue to have, such a great impact on Marc’s life, he is enthusiastically spearheading and organizing, along with his mother, Charlotte, an event in their honor to celebrate them and all they have done to benefit and enhance Jewish life for seniors here in the Valley. (See box.)
“We really didn’t want this,” says Phil. “We are so grateful to Marc, but we would have been happy just to have bagels and coffee with him. We never sought the limelight – and the truth is that I am going along with this because I am so proud of my wife!”
“Here’s to Life” a tribute honoring Hannah and Phil Adelman
When: June 3 at 12:30 pm
Where: Orange Tree Resort, 10601 N. 56th St., Scottsdale
Information: Tickets include brunch, keynote speaker Mary Jo West and entertainment by Jeff and Anthony Lowy
Reservations: Contact 602-544-5129 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit