It was truly the end of an era on SBS Radio on Sunday, August 27, when host of the weekly nationwide Hebrew program for almost 36 continuous years, Nitza Lowenstein, completed her final show, from 11am-1pm.
During that last episode, Lowenstein fondly reflected on her many decades on the airwaves, as the show’s presenter, broadcaster, journalist and producer.
“I still remember my very first program in early March 1988, when I had less than 24 hours to prepare and had no training at all,” she said.
“We didn’t have computers [in the studio], Google was just a funny word and editing interviews on reel-to-reel recorders was a slow and laborious process.
“As they say, I jumped into the deep end, swam and was on my way for the next 35 years, throughout turbulent and triumphant times, constantly changing technology and social change.
“From a very humble beginning, the two-hour Hebrew Program – that includes an hour of English – has grown to the extent where news and current affairs reports, interviews and cultural programs, are now broadcast on national radio every Sunday around Australia on SBS, accessible through analogue and digital radio, online, on a mobile app and via social media.
“I consider myself extremely fortunate that the Hebrew program has been a ‘showcase’ for our listeners and for the most incredible people in the [Jewish] community, who make a difference to the world.”
The guest lists on her program each week ranged from prime ministers, Nobel Prize winners and professors, to rabbis, musicians and movie stars, and quiet achievers who work hard behind the scenes to help others, in all sorts of fields.
“It has been a great challenge for me and extremely interesting and stimulating, to communicate on air on almost every topic under the sun, and I’ve learned a lot from all my guests”, Lowenstein said, adding the interviewee that she was left most impressed by was Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, during his visit to Australia in 1988, in her first year of broadcasting.
“I will never forget how humble and nice he was to me, to an unknown young journalist,” she recalled of that interview.
“In our brief meeting, he inspired me to look at the Holocaust differently … giving me a new perspective and hope.”
When wrapping up, she highlighted how the program – which will continue with new host Amit Rehak – encourages dialogue, understanding and tolerance, while contributing to a vibrant multicultural society and to the audience’s sense of belonging and identity within Australia.
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank you – our listeners around Australia and wherever you are [tuning in from] around the world – for being part of my journey and for your love, encouragement and support.
“And thank you to my husband Arthur and my children, for being so supportive of my passion for radio and putting up with my weekend work.
“I couldn’t have done it without their love and understanding.
“Shalom, from me, Nitza Lowenstein.”