SANDLER, JACOB KOPPEL (d. 1931), composer and music director. Sandler was born in Bielozwekvo and as a child sang in the choir of Cantor Mordecai Minkowsky (the father of Pinhas *Minkowsky). He later became choral director for Cantor Samuel Polishuk. He married and went into business, but subsequently lost his money and in 1888 went to the United States. There he became choral director for several well-known cantors and, at the same time, directed Yiddish theater choruses, first as an assistant to Zelig Mogulescu and then as an independent composer and director. In 1889 Sandler produced Goldfaden's Dr. Almasad and in 1896 composed the music for Joseph Lattiner's operetta Kiddush ha-Shem or the Jewish Minieer. He also composed for M. Horowitz' operettas The Hero and Bracha or the Jewish King of Poland for a Night (1896). In the latter work the song "Eli, Eli" (generally spelled Eili, Eili) with text by Boris Tomashefsky, was featured, and, because of its tremendous effect, the operetta played for many weeks. It became one of the most popular Jewish compositions in the Western world and was performed and recorded by folk and opera singers, as well as cantors. Jossele *Rosenblatt maintained that before "Eili, Eili" appeared in this American operetta, it was heard in Europe as a folksong. He further alleged that the melody was also found among the compositions for seliḥot by a cantor of an earlier generation. The controversy has not been resolved. In any case, the appearance of "Eili, Eili" as an anonymous "folk song" in most of the recordings and printed versions (including the publications of the *Society for Jewish Folk Music) cannot be adduced as proof of a folk origin, since all of them postdate the operetta. Sandler served for a time as composer-director of the Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia and then withdrew from the theater to appear as a synagogue choral director for the High Holy Days.
Z. Zylbercweig, in: Leksikon fun Yidishn Teater, 4 (1934), 1514–15.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.