It’s no secret navigating the options surrounding senior living and senior care can be difficult. That’s why when Rachel Heimovics was thinking about moving out of her Maitland home and downsizing to a senior community, she reached out to Orlando Senior Help Desk and was connected to Caring Transitions.
“I was surprised when Nancy Ludin answered the phone herself,” Rachel says. “I knew her socially before, but her help in recommending the right people to assist us when we downsized and moved was essential, and as our needs grow, I’ll certainly use Orlando Senior Help Desk again.”
Orlando Senior Help Desk is a key program of The Jewish Pavilion, providing free assistance to anyone needing help with a wide range of issues facing our elders. It’s available for anyone and has tremendously complimented the work of The Jewish Pavilion in more than 50 senior communities.
For Rachel and her husband, widely recognized violinist Mati Braun, the organization helped them as their explorations eventually led them to their current apartment in Village on the Green.
That apartment is a true showcase of the extraordinary lives lived by Rachel and Mati.
There are rows of compact discs, including several that have Mati on the cover. There’s a specialty-made piece of furniture that houses Mati’s violins. There’s a music stand overlooking the scenic view from their apartment. On the coffee table, there are books about Jews in the South and Florida, which Rachel helped edit because of her interest in American and Southern Jewish History. She is a past president of both the Chicago Jewish Historical Society and the Southern Jewish Historical Society.
For more than 30 years, Rachel lived in Maitland. She moved to Central Florida from the Chicago area in 1984 when her first husband was transferred to Central Florida. He tragically died of a heart attack just a year later.
She had already had a significant career, including serving in the public information office for legendary Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and in the CBS Radio Network Newsroom in New York and, briefly, with the Wall Street Journal in Chicago. Her background enabled her to find a job as a writer and editor with the educational book publisher, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, which had a major presence in Orlando at the time.
She retired in 1998.
Her life changed again in 2003 when she was introduced to Mati by his second cousin, her good friend. The occasion was a visit to Orlando by the New York Philharmonic. Mati was a member of the violin section of the orchestra, a position that he held for nearly 40 years.
“I called her the next day after we met and called her the next day after that because she was just wonderful,” Mati says.
They were married in 2004 and Mati retired from the New York Philharmonic in 2006.
His career was impressive, just like Rachel’s. He was born and raised in Jerusalem, later moving to Tel Aviv with his family. He started playing violin when he was six years old, practicing his craft every day his entire childhood.
“When kids were outside playing, I was practicing,” Mati says. “One of my favorite memories was when an Orthodox neighbor asked my father to not let me practice on Saturday, and as a result, I joyfully didn’t have to practice on Saturday anymore!”
From Israel, Mati came to the United States to study at the legendary Juilliard School of Music and joined the New York Philharmonic in 1969.
Throughout his career, he was able to play with some of the most renowned conductors of the time, including William Steinberg, Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta and George Szell. When you ask Mati his favorite concert, he says there are too many to name, thinks about it for a bit, and then brings up performing Leoš Janáček’s House of the Dead with Rafael Kubelík conducting.
After retiring from the New York Philharmonic, Mati spent time as an adjunct professor at Rollins College, where he also performed in recitals.
Today, Mati and Rachel continue to be connected to the arts. They regularly attend Opera Orlando, the Orlando Philharmonic, and other arts-related activities, staying very busy with their new life. They each have one son and Rachel also raised two stepchildren. Mati’s son lives in New Jersey and Rachel’s in South Florida.
“I have really had a good life – socially and musically,” Mati says. “I took life less seriously than most people, because, as my father taught me, even when in the lowest of situations, to never lose my sense of humor.”