Long-time Belgian Jewish community leader David Susskind died on Friday at the age of 86. Born in Antwerp in 1925, Susskind founded the Jewish Culture and Sport Center in 1959, which was later renamed Jewish Secular Community Center (CCLJ). He also co-founded and led the Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organizations (CCOJB), the political umbrella body of Jews in the country. Susskind, who managed to flee to Switzerland during World War II whereas many members of his family were murdered in the Shoah, was an ardent defender of a secular Judaism and free speech.
Together with his wife Simone, who survives him, David Susskind was an active proponent of peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. He was also engaged in the fight for the restitution of Jewish properties looted by the Nazis and the liberation of Soviet Jewry. In 2010, the city of Brussels made him one of its honorary citizens.
CCLJ President Henri Gutman called Susskind “a man of courage and conviction” who had throughout his entire life sought to make the Jewish community in Belgium an “active and dynamic factor in public life.”
Listen to an interview with David Susskind in Yiddish which was broadcast by 'SBS Radio' in 2010.