Late last year, The Jewish Pavilion lost one of its driving forces, Gloria Newberger. As soon as Gloria moved to Florida, she started volunteering for the organization and eventually her daughter, Nancy Ludin became the CEO of the non-profit.
She passed away at 94 years old as a resident of Oakmonte Village’s Valencia community, where she called home for six years. Shortly before her death, she talked about The Jewish Pavilion.
“Those services are very important to my friends and myself,” she said. “We look forward to those services every time they are held.”
“Most of the people in these communities are often without relatives or any connection at all to the local Jewish community. Without being a member of a local synagogue, it was very difficult to stay connected to our traditions at that time.”
One of the first people she met was a woman who had lived a life centered around her synagogue. She was a leader but since that was not in Florida, she had not seen a Rabbi in years.
“She said to me, ‘Gloria, until you walked in the door, I thought I was forgotten,’” Gloria recalled while sharing stories of people she had met through volunteering.
One time, Gloria visited a low-income memory care bringing ice cream and songs for the residents. Music is well known to help people suffering from memory loss.
“When we were starting, they would ask our names,” Gloria said. “We would ask them their names and they couldn’t remember. Then we served them ice cream and they started looking up at us. Then we started singing songs and they could remember the words to the songs.
“They were singing along with every single song,” she added. “It was remarkable.”
The one thing that stuck out with Gloria Newberger was her smile.
It was electric.
It lifted the people around her as she recants the stories of her life.
And what a life she’s lived. From being the quintessential PTA mom of every school her children attended in Philadelphia to running a non-profit camp for girls to teaching Sunday school. She was the president of her class in high school, Chief Justice of Student Court too.
In 2004, she made the trek many of our seniors now in Florida follow. She moved to Central Florida to be near her daughter.
“My mother inspired me with her life of service and how she quickly worked to help people in their time of need,” Nancy says. “I’m thankful every day I am allowed to help our elders not be forgotten and I think it is because of Gloria’s passion for volunteering.”