Obituary of DEBRA SAGER
The extraordinary life of Debra Miller Sager, 67, of Edison, New Jersey, came to an end on September 8, 2023, after a short illness, while on a long-awaited vacation to Indonesia.
A lifelong educator, Debbi was born Debra Ellen Miller to Charlotte Fink Miller and Stuart Miller in Manhattan on March 25, 1956. After spending her early years in Jericho, New York, she moved to Cresskill, New Jersey, when she was 11. Graduating from Cresskill High School and earning degrees in the emerging field of special education from Syracuse and Columbia Universities, she embarked on a teaching career that would span the rest of her life, taking her from West Essex High School, to the Center School in Warren, to Featherbed Lane Preschool, to North Plainfield High School, and finally to Linden High School, where she taught special education for 20 years before retiring in 2019.
A proud Reform Jew, Debbi devoted tremendous effort to the advancement of Jewish learning, engagement, community, and values. She spent over 45 years teaching Hebrew School at synagogues all over New Jersey including Temple Sha’arey Shalom in Springfield, Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, Temple Har Shalom in Warren, Temple Sholom in Plainfield (now Scotch Plains), Temple Sholom in Bridgewater, Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, and Temple Shalom in Aberdeen, where she was looking forward to beginning the new school year. In addition, Debbi was a lay leader at her home congregation of Temple Emanu-El in Edison, where she proudly served in numerous leadership roles including leading the youth, religious school, and social action committees. She served as Co-President and as an Executive Board member of the Temple’s sisterhood, and as an Area Director Co-VP of the Women of Reform Judaism’s Atlantic District.
A talented artist throughout her life, in retirement she took up acrylic painting, watercolor, and stained glass, and she rediscovered crocheting. She proudly shared her art with her community, and lovingly created works for family, friends, and others close to her heart.
A relentless fighter who never compromised on her values and who encouraged others to follow her lead, Debbi was legendary for being a good troublemaker, never afraid to stand up to those in power, confronting injustice wherever she found it. A vocal advocate for students, colleagues, and anyone in need, Debbi’s first priority was always improving the lives of others.
Debbi is survived by her three children: Gregory, Benjamin, and Meredith, her dog Shaggy, and her “granddog,” Latke. She is predeceased by her parents and her younger brother, Eric.
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, September 19, at 10:00am, at Neve Shalom, 250 Grove Street, Metuchen, and will be live streamed on the Temple Emanu-El Edison Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TempleEmanuElEdison/). Interment will follow at King Solomon Memorial Park in Clifton. The family will sit shiva at Debbi’s house at 464 Westgate Drive, Edison (parking available on the main circle of Westgate Drive), following the service on Tuesday, until 8:00pm, on Wednesday and Thursday from 3:00pm to 8:00pm, on Saturday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, and at 21 Saint Peter Street, Boston, Massachusetts, on Tuesday, September 26, from 4:00pm to 9:00pm.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider supporting the work into which Debbi poured so much of her soul by donating to the Temple Emanu-El Religious School Fund or the Milton Meiseles Youth Scholarship Fund at: https://www.edisontemple.org/payment.php.