A record $25million bequest for local charity

March 11, 2021 by Warren Hurst
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Sydney’s JewishCare has received a bequest in excess of $25million from Julianna (Julie) Lowy which will benefit generations to come

Julie Lowy

It is understood to be the largest bequest ever for any Sydney Jewish charity.

Jason Sandler President of JewishCare said “we are honoured to have received this bequest. It will enable JewishCare to continue to fulfil its role as the major service provider in the community while greatly reducing the organisation’s annual allocation from JCA. The JewishCare Foundation Trust was formed in 2011 with the aim of making JewishCare more self-reliant and Julie’s generosity will help this to become a reality”

Julianna Lowy (nee Szilas) was born in Budapest, Hungary in September 1922 and passed away in August 2019.

Like many Hungarians who lived during this time, Julie and her family were victims of two ultra-extreme political systems.  They were persecuted firstly as Jews by the Nazis and then by the communist regime.

Despite these extreme hardships, she left an incredible legacy which changed many lives as well as the cultural landscape of Sydney.

Julie married, Pista (Stephen) Lowy a successful restauranteur in Budapest in January 1949 but the Communist regime prevented them from working in the thriving restaurant business they had established.

They emigrated to Australia in 1957 and opened the Rhapsody Cafe in Kings Cross which became an instant hot spot for Europeans, artists and journalists.  The Cosmopolitan followed in the 60s which helped establish Double Bay as the epicentre of the Eastern Suburb’s Hungarian community.

Following this Julie and Pista together with Ervin and Lotte Vidor, opened the Glenview Hotel on the North Shore with the Bellevue Restaurant fast becoming the go-to place for the best European food on the North Shore together with renowned Hungarian Gypsy musical evenings.

Despite their commercial success Julie and Stephen chose to live a comfortable but never extravagant life.

Their earlier years of persecution strongly shaped their views and indeed her fears of any form of extremism.  Scars of a Communist regime remained and in the 1970s her fear of socialism led to her to become involved with the Liberal Party.  Former Prime minister John Howard said “Julie Lowy was a generous and enthusiastic supporter of the Liberal Party.  She and her husband were great examples of people who put the horror and persecution of wartime Europe behind them and built impressive and happy lives in Australia.”

Her Darling Point home was a far cry from Communist Hungary. Beyond the spectacular harbour view and expensive postcode, there was a “no-frills” humility about Julie that many found captivating.

Former President of JewishCare Allan Vidor said “Julianna had a beautiful and undemanding presence and a sincere kindness. She touched so many lives and was always concerned with the welfare of others, always avoiding any focus on herself. Not only will her bequest help JewishCare to help people in need, but equally importantly, it demonstrates the faith and trust that the community has in JewishCare”.

Gary Groves JewishCare’s Chief Executive Officer said “ The financial generosity of people like Julie, as well as our 500 volunteers and 300 dedicated staff, enables us to provide a wide range of high quality services now and into the future of which our community can be very proud”.

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