A regional publication can play a variety of roles for its readers, including trusted friend, advisor, entertainer, mirror and even critic from time to time. What we didn’t count on here at Westchester Magazine is that we would also wind up playing the role of Cupid, as this charming tale of young doctors in love reveals. It’s the perfect prescription to jumpstart the heart for our Valentine’s Day edition of First Things First.
“I was reading Westchester Magazine’s “Beautiful People” issue [May 2011], and I saw this girl; she was in med school and really into philosophy and film, which is my brother’s background, and I thought: I didn’t know there were two people in the world like this; she’d be perfect for my brother!” says Katonah resident Samantha Albano of her sibling, Dr. Michael Kopf, who was a new intern at Danbury Hospital then. “So I contacted one of the editors of the magazine, who agreed to pass along my brother’s contact information. Well, I hadn’t heard anything for, like, two years. Then, out of nowhere, my brother said to me: ‘I didn’t want to say anything until I knew it was serious, but Sabina and I have been dating.”
The layout from our May 2011 “Beautiful People” feature
Michael was referring to Dr. Sabina Rebis, a resident in family-medicine at Stony Brook University-Southampton Hospital in Southampton, NY. Sabina was not only one of 21 Westchester County residents featured in the “Beautiful People” issue, she was literally the poster girl of our Contents page. For her part, Sabina really wasn’t looking for any romantic entanglements when Michael’s introductory email arrived in her inbox. Her studies at Eastern Virginia Medical School were grueling; she wasn’t really a fan of dating websites; and it’s not as if friends and family were parading a procession of Prince Charmings past her dorm room. Still, despite what to this day she considers highly unlikely circumstances, she saw something different in Michael.
“Initially, I was just looking for a friend,” says the 32-year-old native of White Plains, “someone who shared similar interests, which Michael absolutely did, but I hadn’t been looking for a love connection, so to speak.”
But as so often happens in life, you get exactly what you’re not looking for. So, after a series of getting-to-know-you email correspondences, Sabina and Michael wound up meeting up a couple of times at the romantic, Victorian-themed boutique bar called Pour in Mount Kisco. “It just felt right,” she says.
Their official first “date” happened sometime later, however, when the fledgling physicians met for sushi and a holiday-season screening of David O. Russell’s screwball romantic dramedy Silver Linings Playbook. “There was a guy going around, selling heart-shaped pins for charity at the theater, and Michael got one for me, which I thought was sweet,” says Sabina. “After the movie, we were walking arm-in-arm down the wintery streets of White Plains,” chimes Michael, a Frank Capra fanatic who’d studied film theory and English lit at the University of Miami, “and it reminded me of Dylan’s Freewheelin’ album cover. I couldn’t help but sense that my life would never be the same again.”
But whereas Michael says he fell in love with Sabina progressively, seduced in doses by a new and exciting dimension every time he saw her, Sabina was just plain struck by the thunderbolt. It happened at a holiday party, perhaps a week after their fateful movie night in White Plains.
It was Dr. Michael Kopf’s sister Sam (center)who played matchmaker for him and the woman who is now his fiancee, Dr. Sebina Rebis of White Plains.
“We were at this really festive party at a good friend’s house, and Michael and I were talking, and it was as if there were no one else in the room… a complete vacuum except for him and me. From that night, I knew I was his for as long as he’d have me.”
Apparently that means eternity, as Michael asked Sabina to be his wife in December of 2015, at a romantic B&B in Easthampton. The real-life McDreamy ushered his would-be bride to the site of his proposal by a chauffeured limo whose backseat was littered with her junk-food faves, including Reese’s Pieces, Swedish Fish, granola bars, and Pepsi.
“It must have been an auspicious location to pop the question,” opines Michael, 34, currently a hemotology-onocology fellow at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, “because Mary-Kate Olsen and her new husband were sitting at a nearby table in the restaurant where we had dinner after Sabina said, ‘Yes!’”
Today, the two are enjoying life together on Long Island, hanging back to see where their burgeoning medical careers take them before deciding on a wedding date—and where to have their subscription to Westchester Magazine sent.