We mourn the passing of our friend and ally, Alan Sagner, who died last week in his home at the age of 97. Our condolences go out to his daughter, Deborah, who was his partner in efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace, and to his entire family.
Alan and Deborah made one of the initial grants that enabled us to launch J Street in 2008 and he was a member of J Street’s first advisory council. Deborah went on to become one of J Street’s founding board members, with Alan’s blessing and his close counsel.
Alan’s philanthropy was deeply rooted in his commitment to the vibrancy of Jewish communal life. He was the founding chair of the United Jewish Appeal’s National Young Jewish Leadership Council in 1963 and president of the national board of trustees of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Central to his commitment to Jewish life was his connection to Israel and to its quest to live in peace and security alongside a Palestinian state.
Alan was, first and foremost, an iconoclast. He was drawn to J Street, in large part, by his zeal for innovative ideas and movements not afraid to rock the boat. As he wrote in one of his frequent letters to the editor about Israel: “J Street’s objective is to bring together Americans who seek a new direction for American policy in the Middle East and a broader public and policy debate in the US about ways to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East. That is why many of us who are, and have been, ardent supporters of Israel look to J Street as an additional, new voice for our community.”
We are humbled and grateful for his confidence in us, and inspired by his memory, which we will carry forward in our work.