Meet Harry Lowenstein
Updated: Nov 30, 2022
As a founding member of Congregation Shalom Aleichem in Kissimmee, Harry Lowenstein's faith has always been the centerpiece of his life. For many years, he conducted services and provided the Torah, the mantle, the rimonim and the Yahrzeit board.
But as he aged, and moved into Village on the Green in Longwood, driving to the shul – even to his new congregation at Southwest Orlando – became difficult. He stopped going.
If it wasn’t for the efforts of The Jewish Pavilion, he might not have been able to keep his traditions. But once a month, The Jewish Pavilion came to Village on the Green providing Shabbat.
“I was very appreciative of The Jewish Pavilion coming in and providing service,” Harry says.
The pandemic put a pause on services at Village on the Green, but Harry was not going to let that stop him. Inspired by the work of The Jewish Pavilion, he got permission to hold Shabbat for 10 people, twice a month.
That determination is something that comes throughout his entire story.
One of the first things Harry shows visitors is the gold star he wore as a child in 1930s Germany. That, and a picture of his mother and father are the only physical reminders of his youth.
His father was taken on Kristallnacht and for the next six years, he was shipped throughout Europe until he was liberated by the Russian army. He returned to his village as his mother had instructed him, hoping to be reunited.
But he was the only one left.
Of a town of 1,100 people, just three returned.
Someone else was living in their house so he grabbed the star his mother had hidden in a crack in a wall and went to an orphanage. That didn’t last long, so he decided to find a way to come to the United States where he knew some family lived.
With just three dollars in his shoe, Harry stepped foot in the United States.
For the next 60 years, Harry made a life for himself. He worked in butcher shops in New York and then made his way to Florida to work in an uncle’s shoe shop. In 1971, he opened his own shoe store in the heart of downtown Kissimmee, eventually owning the building and expanding it into a centerpiece of the community.
In 2001, he sold the building and the shoe store, retiring with his wife Carol, who passed in 2017. They had two children who both live in Orlando.