|The bride, Heather Glubo, and the groom, Jesse David, kiss under the chuppah.|
The joy that Lauren Glubo felt about her daughter’s impending marriage was diminished only by the realization that the frail seniors in the social daycare program she runs at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly would not be able to join her family for the February 15 wedding on Long Island.
Ms. Glubo, a recreational therapist, has headed the Kaplen Adult Reach Center – ARC – nearly since its inception about 25 years ago, and says she still looks forward to coming to work every day. Her goal is making all the participants “feel very special, like we are their best friends. I love each and every one of them.”
So she decided if they couldn’t be at the actual wedding, she would bring a reenacted wedding to them on February 18
“A lot of them can’t get out to weddings very often, and I thought it would make their day special, even if they didn’t remember it the next day,” she said.
Invitations went out not only to the roster of about 30 registered participants but also to their families and to spouses of past participants who since have died.
Despite the fact that many ARC members winter in the South, and despite the fact that February 18 turned out to be a snow day on which the usual van transportation to ARC did not run, the affair drew 81 attendees.
“I was surprised that some of the people actually took taxis to get here,” Ms. Glubo said. Others were driven by volunteers or caregivers.
“They didn’t want to miss it,” said Judith Davidsohn Nahary, the JCC’s director of senior adult services. “They felt included and needed and wanted. Giving the ARC participants a purpose is something we try to do as an overall goal.”
ARC members – who have memory impairment and also may be physically infirm and suffer from depression – participated as bridesmaids, singers, chuppah pole holders, or readers of blessings. One participant’s granddaughter was the flower girl.
The bride, Heather Glubo, a 32-year-old clinical psychologist, was accompanied by her parents, Les and Lauren Glubo, her sister, Jessica Glubo, and her grandmother, Shelley Wolfe. Both Heather and Jessica Glubo have volunteered at ARC.
The groom, Jesse David, was accompanied by his parents, Len and Rochel David, who live on the same block in Teaneck as the Glubos and attend the same synagogue, Congregation Beth Sholom. The congregation’s rabbi, Joel Pitkowsky, came to the JCC to officiate at the reenactment.
At a luncheon served after the mock nuptials, a hired musician provided the backdrop for ARC members to dance with each other and with the celebrants.
Ms. Nahary explains that ARC’s program is inspired by the Montessori educational philosophy, which encourages the pursuit of natural interests and activities within a rich environment.
“We try to get our seniors engaged in everything the JCC has to offer, including the nursery school, camp, and music school,” she said. “Over the years, Lauren’s come up with a lot of creative festivities for them to enjoy. We did a real mock wedding many years ago, where two participants played the bride and groom.”
About two-thirds of ARC members are Jewish and almost all are from Bergen County, Ms. Glubo said. She expressed gratitude to her staff, in particular Marie Gonzalez, Robbie Wedeen, and Sal Pintavalle, for making the program – and the reenacted wedding – a success.