Dee Sussman


Odelia “Dee” Epstein (nee Sussman)
QC ‘09
Urban Studies

Where were you born and where did you grow up?Alumni5770 056
I was born and grew up in Staten Island.

I know that you have very special parents. Can you tell me a bit about your childhood?
My parents used to take homeless people into our house, some of whom would stay with us for years, on and off. It was a very special experience, and it gave me insight into poverty and mental illness.

Did you ever not like it?
It was fun for me. But it really depended who the person was. I learned to share with my siblings, and to share with the other people in my house.

How did you meet your husband Daniel?
I met Daniel through friends at Queens College. When we first started hanging out, he was very involved with Chabad at QC, and I was interested in spiritual growth. I agreed to go with him to a Tanya class, and that started us going together everyThursday night, and it was really great for me, because it kept me connected with my own journey. Side note: it was really good for me, because it was my opportunity to learn on my own.

Can you tell me something about your likes or hobbies etc.?
I like to read. I like to learn. I like to play with my son. I like boating.

Boating? I love boating!
Yeah, paddle boating, canoeing, kayaking.  Do you ever get to go boating?

Yes, this summer, I went boating with my family on a lake in the Catskills. We almost got caught out on the water in a huge storm!

Were your kids screaming to get back to land?
No, they wanted to stay on the water!

The water is so amazing. A lake or an ocean, or a pond, there’s something very special about. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something inside of me that really connects to water.

The Baal Shem Tov said that when you encounter water, you should say that the Baal Shem Tov says that water is a sign of blessing.
I never heard that before!

What do you value most about your Queens College education?
The diversity of the students on campus and in the classroom.

What have you been up to since then?
I got married, and I got a masters degree in public administration from Baruch College, and now I work at Yeshiva University on day school affordability and sustainability.

That’s a hot topic these days.
Yes. It’s a really amazing program, where we work in 42 schools in six communities. We work with the schools over three years to have a 10% improvement in their finances. The schools have already projected over $20m of improvement.

What’s your favorite Jewish food?
Is sushi a Jewish food? Can I say pizza? Challah. Or grape juice.

I remember your son Jacob’s bris… how old is he now? What’s he up to?
He’s two, and he’s started talking and is a menace to society. Or basically just to his parents.

Is he in the terrible two’s?
Yes. Or the terribly fun, amazing two’s!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Happy! With a big family. I don’t know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing.

Anything else you would like to ad?
I really value the presence of Chabad on the Queens College campus, because it gave me an outlet to explore my religious and cultural experience.

Thanks and Shabbat Shalom!