Cantor Sarah J. Sager, Cantor of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Cleveland, Ohio, was inducted onto HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors at its meeting in Cincinnati on October 22, 2012.
Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President, stated, “As a distinguished leader of our cantorial alumni and the catalyst for the groundbreaking The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, Cantor Sarah Sager brings a depth of knowledge in Jewish studies, sacred music, and synagogue life. She will enrich our efforts to prepare women and women for careers of leadership for the Reform Movement and klal yisrael.”
Cantor Sager has served the community of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple since 1980, and was the first invested Cantor in that synagogue’s history. Serving three generations of congregants, Cantor Sager has built enduring relationships with Anshe Chesed families, with whom she has shared life cycle events and shared her gifts as a teacher to learners of all ages. Many congregations across North America have sought Cantor Sager as a visiting lecturer or scholar-in-residence, where she shares insights on Judaism and feminism, Jewish music, and Torah learning.
A native of Illinois, Cantor Sager received Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude honors as an undergraduate at Brown University (1970), and a Master’s Degree from the New England Conservatory of Music (1975). At the time of her investiture by the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (1978), she was one of the first women in the world to hold the title of Cantor.
Her stirring charge to the 1993 Biennial Convention of the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) in San Francisco, “Sarah’s Hidden Voice: Recovering and Discovering Women’s Spirituality,” resulted in WRJ undertaking the project of a transformative publication, The Torah: A Women’s Commentary (published in 2007), which has engendered feminist commentary and a growth in interpretations and scholarship. Cantor Sager “charged” the women of our Reform movement with the goal of “uncovering and recovering women’s voices from our tradition and enable women to interact freely with our sacred texts in the future.”
Cantor Sager has been honored for her contributions to the Jewish community and for her spiritual leadership by the State of Israel Bonds and the Commission for Women’s Equality of the American Jewish Congress. She has served on movement-wide commissions on Synagogue Music and on Worship, Music, and Religious Life.