Susskind finds life lessons combining basketball, Judaism

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By Miller Friedman
Staff writer
@miller_friedman

Jacob Susskind’s career at this university made several headlines in the Jewish community.

Susskind was a walk-on for the this university’s basketball team, and even though he averaged less than two minutes per game over his four-year career, his impact spread far beyond the basketball court for the Jewish community.

An article from The Washington Post in 2015 said that strangers would come up to Susskind while he was still a student and say that their family members were fans.

Campus Rabbi and Hillel Executive Director Ari Israel said Susskind was always willing to be involved in Jewish events on campus.

“Jacob participated in Hillel’s basketball tournament for a few years. He used to attend Hillel Shabbat dinners at AEPi as well as some Jewish social events,” Israel said.

Senior broadcast journalism major Vidal Serfaty was in AEPi with Susskind, and said that his humility made him very well liked.

“He was a senior when I was a freshman, so on the surface that would seem intimidating,” Serfaty said. “Once we got to know him he was a real genuine guy and it was cool to see that he was just like the rest of us.” 

Susskind graduated from this university two years ago, and while he has moved on from basketball, he said that he continues to benefit from his college days in his job at an investment management firm.

“I’ve used the lessons I learned on the basketball team in my everyday life, especially with my current job,” Susskind said.

Susskind attributes his diligence at his new job to his time as a student athlete.

“I may not be the most skilled or the smartest, but my work ethic has proven in such a short time to be one of the most important things,” he said. “I have been able to move faster than some of my peers because of my drive and that is one of the things that was instilled in me while playing basketball.”

Jacob Susskind, former basketball player for this university, is now a Regional Advisor Consultant at OppenheimerFunds. Photo courtesy of Jacob Susskind.

Judaism has always been at the forefront for Susskind. Before he was a student at this university, he attended Golda Och Academy, a small Jewish day school in West Orange, New Jersey.

“Being Jewish has been a very important part of my life,” Susskind said. “Growing up and going to a Jewish day school, it was a constant in my life.”

Susskind said that he has always been open about his religion, and this has endured after graduation.

“Throughout my time in college I made sure that everyone knew I was Jewish and I wasn’t afraid to voice my opinions when it came to religion,” he said. “I continue to have very meaningful conversations with my past teammates, friends, and family.”

Another lesson that Susskind said has translated from college to his current job is resilience. When he first decided to walk onto the basketball team as a freshman, he was not positive that he would make the team, but he had to remain confident during the tryout process. He cites this confidence as a quality that everyone should have when applying to jobs after college.

“Don’t be upset if you don’t get the first, second, or third job,” Susskind said. You will get a job at some point.”

Susskind also encouraged new post-graduates not to panic if their first job isn’t perfect.

“I’m two years out of school and I only have one close friend that is still in their first job,” he said. “You can always get another one.”  

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