Posted on February 1, 2012
Arthur and Annabelle Sandler have been Temple Beth David (TBD) members since 1963, yet being “in” a temple is something they never take for granted. Growing up, Annabelle’s Russian mother was afraid to go to synagogue due to the political unrest experienced in Europe. In contrast, Arthur was raised an observant Jew by his mother of Polish descent and his Lithuanian father. He was educated and Bar Mitzvahed at United Hebrew School in Detroit. So it is with great joy Annabelle, along with her husband Arthur of nearly 62 years, were among the first to step inside the building where TBD now resides. To them, this was quite a privilege and joy to be there for the ground breaking and to have a new home for TBD.
Annabelle was born in New York, yet by age 8 her family moved to southern California in hopes of her dad finding employment. While in California, Annabelle was confirmed at Wilshire Boulevard Temple and went to college at UCLA for two years until meeting and marrying her sweetheart – Arthur Sandler, a USC engineering student who had grown up in Detroit, Michigan. They lived in Lakewood and then Los Alamitos, California and raised three kids – one of which is Michelle Sandler who with husband Bob Altman joined the temple in 1996.
Arthur is probably one of the best historians our temple has. He recalls when TBD used a little church off Katella and Pine Street for Friday night services before it moved to a community church near Katella and Bloomfield. High Holiday services were held at Garden Grove Municipal Center and the Methodist Church in Long Beach. One of Arthur’s earliest roles was to set up the sanctuary for Shabbat services which included placing the portable ark and ner tamid (eternal flame lamp), as well as draping a large Lion of Judah banner over the huge white and gold cross. One time before Arthur had a chance to finish covering the cross, he recalls a young congregant asking what the cross was for. The child’s mom quickly replied, “For the ‘T’ in Temple.”
Even though Arthur’s employer relocated their family to Holland for nearly two years, they got back involved in TBD soon after their return. Annabelle was the Social Action Chair and helped Jewish immigrants resettle. She helped them find jobs and places to live, took them to doctor’s appointments, and even taught them English. Arthur, along with Max Sudakow, would conduct Shiva minyans and unveiling services when the Rabbi was unavailable. Arthur also served on the temple Board as Membership Chair in 1967 and 1970. He recruited the Spielmans – a family who continues to make a lasting impact on TBD. Arthur sang in the TBD choir for 25 years and in those days they would sing at every Shabbat service and High Holy Days, as well as, at every Bar and Bat Mitzvah and for numerous fundraising concerts. A vivid memory for Arthur was the blue robes, and then for a time the red robes which didn’t go over too well with congregants.
Arthur made a name for himself in his career as an electrical engineer focused on power sources for large industrial installations. He worked as lead electrical engineer on the Alaskan pipeline among other places. With his love of singing, he joined several choirs and even helped start a choir at work. As the only Jew in that choir, he taught them Hinay Ma Tov. The baritone singer also sang in Jewish choirs at Naval Boot Camp, Huntington Park Congregation, and a temple in Spokane, WA. Another highlight was singing at Carnegie Hall as part of a Cypress College Choral Group.
Annabelle and Arthur love the opera, theatre, ballet, art museums, traveling, and spending time with family. Arthur also enjoys doing the puzzles in the newspaper, reading, and going on walks.
I could not resist asking the Sandlers about their 62 year marriage. Arthur replied, “It works because we allowed the relationship to mature and we grew with it. We also always remember ‘why’ we got married in the first place. When you do that and embrace your children with love, it’s easy to be married for 62 years.”
As our temple continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary, we are grateful such a loving dedicated couple is part of the Temple Beth David family tree!