WEST ORANGE, NJ — Seniors who hadn't seen each other in more than six months got to catch up from afar and listen to some music outdoors yesterday. 

The event was a collaboration between the Jewish Community Center of MetroWest NJ and B'nai Shalom, both in West Orange, and Homewatch CareGivers of South Orange. Most of the seniors attend regular programming at the JCC, which of course has been suspended since the pandemic began. 

"They're hungry for connection,” said Randi Brokman, director of Community Outreach and Client Care for Homewatch CareGivers, of the seniors. She said the company usually sponsors senior activities several times a year, and so she coordinated with the Margulies Senior Center at the JCC and the senior group at the synagogue to create the concert for the fall holiday of Sukkot safely in the B'nai Shalom parking lot, with each chair more than six feet apart. “It was a joint effort in order to bring some happiness during Sukkot to our seniors,” she said.

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Some 30 seniors attended to hear songs from many decades; they each came away with a goody bag with snacks since they could not host a meal as they usually do at their previous events. “I'm thrilled to be able to do something that the community was desperately screaming out for,” said Larry Aronson, Homewatch CareGivers owner. “It's really cool to be part of it.” 

Myra Cohen of Livingston was happy “This was so wonderful. I got to see people I haven't seen since March. I wanted to see them so badly." She said when she moved into the area from Florida, meeting people at the JCC was a large part of her social life. "It was my second home,” Cohen said.