Nearing 100, Former Skokie Cantor Is A Real Mensch

SKOKIE, Ill. (CBS) — On the eve of his 100th birthday, a Skokie man still has a song in his heart and on his lips.

Until his retirement just a few years ago at the age of 91, David Brandhandler spent half his life as a professional cantor, singing the Jewish prayers every week at Ner Tamid, a now-shuttered synagogue on Chicago’s North Side.

Now, he says he sings just for himself and Goldie, his wife of nearly 67 years.

Along the way, he taught generations of students, preparing them to chant for their bar and bat mitzvahs. For each of hundreds of students, his wife says he recorded the service so they could practice.

“One of our grandsons had oral surgery and the oral surgeon heard the name, Brandhandler. He was his bar mitzvah student. He still had that record, he told him,” Goldie said.

David also wrote hundreds of musical compositions, many of them still sung by other cantors. Besides music, David said the greatest blessing of his 100 years is his family: his wife, son, their late daughter, their five grandchildren, and their three great-grandchildren — the youngest of whom will turn 1-year-old within days of David turning 100.

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