Julian Sandler, board chairman of Hillel: Foundation for Jewish Campus Life who died March 20 after a brief illness, was remembered this week for his keen analytical mind, his warmth, ever present smile and “sweet South African accent.” He was 64.
“He made each of his friends feel special,” said Stephen Steinig, a friend who spoke at Mr. Sandler’s funeral Sunday at the Dix Hills Jewish Center where Mr. Sandler was a former president. “Julian was a leader among leaders.”
He told the more than 500 in attendance that Mr. Sandler identified four pillars in his life—family, social life, philanthropy and business – as the areas that “captured” his life’s interests.
As an example of his commitment to family, his sons, Ian and Joel, recalled that in the mid ‘90s when their father was driving to the airport to catch a plane to Houston to attend a cousin’s bar mitzvah, his car ran out of gas. While walking to a gas station, he was hit by a car.
After spending a night in a hospital to be treated for a broken left arm and other injuries, Mr. Sandler got on the next plane to Houston and made it in time for the bar mitzvah.
“He came off the plane limping and bruised, but he wouldn’t miss a family obligation,” recalled his wife, Nina.
Richard Joel, president of Yeshiva University and former international director of Hillel, said it would be hard to “find someone who was so joyously involved in Jewish life for the right reasons. He always illuminated a room. He considered his involvement with Hillel a privilege. He was analytical and thoughtful and wanted to run Hillel as a sacred business.”
Wayne Firestone, Hillel’s president, said Mr. Sandler believed in the “critical importance of transmitting yiddishkeit from generation to generation and modeled what it means to be a proud, knowledgeable committed Jew with menschlichkeit.”
Shortly before his death, Mr. Sandler established an endowment fund at Hillel to provide executive leadership training to the most promising new Hillel directors.
Mr. Sandler was founder and president of Rent-a-PC, later renamed SmartSource Computer and A/V Rentals. He served also as a member of board of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s rabbinical school, and as a board member of the Fay J. Linder assisted living complex at the Gurwin Jewish Geriatric Center in Commack, N.Y.