Remembering Aaron

Illuminated art lights the path for nighttime visitors to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Chinese Lantern Festival.

By Lois Caplan

AARON SANDLER, as many of you knew, was my significant other for seven wondrous years. We met in Sarasota, then his home, where we enjoyed the Florida weather and cultural offerings of the city. Our pets — Elsie, my shih tzu, and Lili, his poodle — were as compatible as Aaron and I and traveled comfortably between St. Louis and Longboat Key, my vacation home. 

Sadly, Aaron died in Chicago on June 3.  He is survived by four sons — Andrew Sandler (Gaye) of Nashville; Peter Sandler of Seattle; Terry Goodman (Amy) of Cincinnati, and Matthew Sandler (Jessica) of Chicago, and a brother Gene Sandler (Gail) of Chapel Hill, plus seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. The oldest of his five sons, Frank Sandler (Rhonda) of Prescott, Ariz. predeceased him.

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Aaron was born in Boston, Mass. in 1926. He attended New York Military Academy (yes, he told me he was a bad boy and that his parents could not keep him out of the pool hall, ergo military school), served in the Navy Medical Corp and, after World War II  graduated from Colby College in Waterville,  Maine. At age 27 he married and moved to Bay City, Mich. where he lived for more than 30 years. Always active in the Masonic Order, he became a 33rd degree Mason, served on the Board of Temple Israel there, and was involved in the Rotary Club.

My daughters, Leslie and Lisa, loved Aaron and regarded him as a third father. He, in turn, loved them and my granddaughter Claire.  

Aaron never met a stranger. His warm and outgoing personality captivated most everyone he met.  In spite of the fact that he had not lived in Michigan in years, he always thought if it as “home.” So when it came time to select a final resting place, he choose Oakwood Memorial Mausoleum in Saginaw.

Do I miss Aaron? Just as I might miss my right arm.

THE RESALE SHOP, a charitable project of the National Council of Jewish Women — St. Louis Section, will be one of the hosts for the National Association of Retail and Thrift Stores convention to be held in St. Louis this weekend. As a part of the Shops on Tour, NCJW expects six chartered buses of shop owners and managers from all over the country during the day.  “We need your help to showcase NCJW’s new shop that supports all of our programs and projects throughout the year.” explained Ellen Alper, the Section’s executive director. 

Just the other day I visited the Resale Shop at its new location, 295 N. Lindbergh Boulevard and was amazed at the beauty, organization and spaciousness of the shop and thought of what a lovely and glamorous volunteer site it is. Volunteers are needed Thursday to help set up the shop for the tour and Friday to help out the many new customers. To volunteer call the NCJW office at 993-5181 or the shop at 692-8141.

THE LANTERN FESTIVAL at the Missouri Botanical Garden is indescribably gorgeous. If you have not yet been, I recommend you go your first free night — (the lanterns are lit at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through August 19).  I went while it was still light out and was there, as the Garden darkened, to see the lanterns (some several stories high) colorfully lighted. Awesome! There is so much to learn about Chinese culture and history that you could go back to the Garden several times and still miss something.

Admission to the Lantern Festival ranges from $22 for the general public to $15 for Garden Members and $10 to $5 for children.

PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS was nominated for nine Tony Awards, the most ever for an original American play. As a co-producer, our own Jack Lane of Stages St. Louis was also nominated for a Tony because  the show received a best play nomination. 

I saw Jack just before the Tonys and he was proudly wearing a Tony pin.  “Peter and the Starcatchers” is the   prequel to the Peter Pan story based on the best selling book by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.  Although it did not win the coveted “best” it did win four Tonys for various aspects of the play. Big congratulations are in order for Jack!

The NEW JEWISH THEATRE’S Kathleen Sitzer let me know of a wonderful story about B’nai Amoona’s Cantor Sharon Nathanson, who is a guest performer at the NJT’s Gesher Chamber Music Festival which takes place from Sunday, June 24 to Sunday, July 1 (see full details in the Light’s ChaiLights calendar, page 17).

Nathanson is hoping her performance during the festival’s gala will bring awareness to a cause that is close to her heart. Nathanson will donate all of her proceeds from her concerts with Gesher to support FDNOW, which funds research for Familial Dysautonomia, a Jewish genetic disorder from which her 2 ½ year old son, Zach suffers. 

Familial Dysautonomia, or FD, is a rare, fatal, genetic, neurologic disease present at birth. In the 1970s and ’80s children born with this disorder typically did not survive past the age of five. Today, through research, there is much hope and 50 percent of those with the condition reach the age of 30.  

Details on the concerts and concert series packages are available at www.geshermusicfestival.org. Tickets range from $11.50 – $37.50 depending on event and may be purchased online or by calling the NJT box office, 314-442-3283.