FOUR YEARS AGO, Stephen Phillips and his wife, Barbara, finally heeded their adult daughters’ pleas—just short of commands—to move near one of them. The Phillipses were native Northeasterners who lived in Connecticut. One daughter lives in Denver, the other in Charlotte. It occurred to the women that it’d be good for their parents, then past 70, to be in the same town as one of them, just in case. Colorado was too cold. So Charlotte it was.
The Phillipses began attending Temple Beth El, the reform Jewish synagogue and cultural center on Providence Road in south Charlotte, whose leaders had noticed their congregation, on balance, growing older and older each year. Judy Schindler, then the senior rabbi, came to Stephen Phillips with a request. “About two years ago, Rabbi Judy approached me and asked if I’d be a liaison for the older adults,” Phillips says on a Sunday morning in early December, in a sun-flooded room ringed by kiosks offering information on services—healthcare options, home care, retirement community options—for older adults. “Our congregation here, like all congregations, is aging.”