Between heading local organizations or sitting on boards, volunteering with humanitarian efforts or creating art, Anne Lowe, 70, finds time for everything and shows no sign of stopping.
For nine years, she served as Northwest Jewish Connections coordinator (later Northwest Division director) and outreach director for the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.
But it wasn’t a desire to slow down that made Lowe want to retire, it was the desire to travel.
In 2015, her husband was offered the chance to teach in Singapore and Lowe wanted to make the trip without leaving behind a mountain of work waiting for her return.
Lowe grew up in Saratoga Springs, New York, and went to Syracuse University where she met her husband, David. Together they have three adult children and eight grandchildren.
They moved from New York to California, and from California to Milwaukee, where they spent about 25 years.
But Lowe is happy in Tucson, especially with the weather.
“I don’t miss shoveling snow or snow blowing, I don’t miss raking leaves or the snow in winter,” she says. “It’s very pretty but I don’t miss driving in it.”
Returning from her five-week sojourn in Singapore, Lowe was able to focus solely on her volunteer work.
She has been a part of Hadassah since 1971, serving as a board member and a president of three different chapters.
She serves as president of Hadassah Southern Arizona and will finish out her term in December after seven years in the position.
She continues to serve as president of Congregation Bet Shalom, a position she’s held since 2016.
But even as Lowe steps down from Hadassah in December, her time in January will be spent with the Tucson International Jewish Film Festival. She says it is worth it.
“I love it, we bring wonderful films to this community,” Lowe says. “Sometimes they have just a touch of Jewish connection, sometimes just the producer or one of the actors was Jewish, [but] often it has a Jewish theme.”
She also spends time in the desert with Humane Borders, setting up water stations for migrants coming across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Lowe cites the Torah about “welcoming the stranger” for causes like this, which are a little controversial.
Her synagogue sponsors a Kurdish refugee family, and Lowe visits them once a week to help with whatever they need.
“They give back to me in so many ways and not just because they give me baklava when I visit,” Lowe says.
It is hard to decline those who need her help because lending a hand is what gives her the most joy, she says, quoting another passage from the Torah to explain.
“The reward for the deed is the doing thereof,” Lowe says. “I truly believe that you get a reward when you do volunteer work.”
Along with these activities, every year she works with Hadassah and Bet Shalom to clean the roads around the Tucson Jewish Community Center.
When it comes to dedicating time to herself, Lowe enjoys creating art, writing, and a weekly game of Monday night mah jongg.
Lowe created a piece of art for a recent show at the Tucson Jewish Community Center that she titled “613 Mitzvot.”
The piece has beads sewn into it to represent the mitzvot, the commandments cited in the Torah. Some of the 613 are not applicable since the destruction of the Second Temple.
“I’m not going to say I’ve ever done all the mitzvot that I am obligated to do, but I try to do as many as I can,” Lowe said. “I try to be a good person to others, to myself and to my family.”
Lowe volunteers with the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework, where she does stitching, sewing, knitting, and needlepoint, all with a Jewish connection.
She teaches art too, having taught classes at the Marana Senior Center, Congregation Bet Shalom, and the Tucson J, among others.
In Milwaukee, she taught art to middle schoolers, but prefers to teach adults as they tend to want to be there and learn.
On the writing side, Lowe is finishing up her second book, “A Touch of Torah,” which will feature stories inspired by life, being Jewish, and the writings in the Torah.
Lowe was inspired to collect her writings by friends who were touched by them.
This is the second book Lowe will self-publish, the first being a children’s book, “Raven’s Flight,” about a girl who travels around in a hot air balloon solving crimes.
For the chapter headers in “A Touch of Torah,” Lowe developed a Hebrew font where the typeface is made of leaves and figs.
She believes it is important to let events drive you, rather than material things.
“My grandmother always taught me to never let your possessions possess you,” Lowe said. “I’m not big on spending money on jewelry and that type of stuff, I think it is more important to make memories.”
She considers herself happy, lucky and healthy, and wishes to keep paying it forward.
She doesn’t plan to lighten her load anytime soon because, she says, she gets back tenfold what she gives.
“I’m happiest when I’m busiest,” Lowe says. “Sometimes I’m too busy and I feel like I should say no more often.”
She appreciates an occasional day off to reflect and use her time for herself, but two or three days off cause her to feel like her time is being wasted, especially when she can spend it with others.
“It’s not just being busy, it’s being busy with other people,” she says.