Jewish Senior Living magazine   2017/2018


Come the Jewish holidays of Chanukah or Passover, one was likely to find the Friedman family – Phyllis and Howard, and their children David, Eleanor, and Bob – celebrating at the Jewish Home of San Francisco.

“A constant cheerleader” is how Phyllis Friedman modestly describes her involvement with the Jewish Home.

“This was our family tradition. It was so wonderful,” Phyllis recollects. “Even though many of the elderly residents couldn’t read any longer, you could see by their faces how much it meant to them to celebrate these holidays.”

Phyllis, now 94, chatted about her family’s longtime love of and commitment to the Jewish Home from her house in Hillsborough, designed by her architect husband, who died in 1988. “Howie loved the Home and talking to the residents,” she says.

President of the Jewish Home’s board from 1962 to 1965, Howard Friedman was responsible for designing Pinecrest, the Home’s then independent living facility that was replaced in 1995 by the Howard A. Friedman Pavilion (named in his honor), as well as the 1969 “A” (Annex) building. (It was renamed The Edward and Marion Goodman Building in 2007.)

Phyllis emphasizes that her husband believed in dignity for the elderly and thus, among other requirements, provided a private bathroom for each resident in his building’s design. “He told me he designed it so that, in his words, ‘I’d be proud if my mother came to live here’,” she says.

Son David has followed in his father’s footsteps. He served as Jewish Home board chair from 2004 to 2007, is now chair of Jewish Senior Living Group, a trustee of Jewish Home & Senior Living Foundation, and currently chairs the Home’s Live. Grow. Flourish. comprehensive campaign.

“My husband was a steady and constant contributor to the Home in so many ways, as is my son David,” Phyllis stresses. “I’m more of constant cheerleader of the caring concern given to the residents. It’s always been a lesson to me of how special and wonderful care for the elderly must be.”

A Bay Area native, Phyllis graduated from U.C. Berkeley. “Cal was a great place,” she says. “I was there in ’41, during the war.” She is a big fan of the Bears and remembers sitting out in the rain to watch their football games. Trained as a social worker, she worked at Jewish Family and Children’s Services in San Jose and at San Mateo High School, and has been an involved volunteer for a number of organizations, including the Jewish Community Federation and, of course, the Jewish Home. As such, she played a leadership role in the Home’s signature fundraising event, Someone’s in the Kitchen. “It was really fun,” she says, “and I was quite satisfied with the fundraising.”

Phyllis maintains that the Jewish Home is one of the top institutions for seniors in the country. She calls the three executive directors she has known – Sydney Friedman, Jerry Levine, and current CEO Daniel Ruth – charismatic leaders who know how to treat the elderly. “Every one of them has been a visionary,” she says. She loves the concept of one of the Home’s forthcoming innovations, Byer Square, as a meeting place for seniors and a destination for related services, support, and community.

Although Phyllis is still content living in her own house, “I have entertained thoughts of going to the Jewish Home,” she says. “Knowing it’s there is a very settling feeling for me.”

“Howard was a steady and constant contributor to the Home in so many ways,” says Phyllis Friedman of her late husband.

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