TRIBUTES have flowed for communal philanthropist Susan Wakil, who passed away earlier this week aged 85.
Together with Isaac Wakil, her husband of 62 years, she supported a number of causes within both the Jewish and wider communities.
Extending condolences to the Wakil family, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said their generosity “has been exceptional”.
Sydney Jewish Museum development director Robert Schneider said the museum’s board and staff were “very saddened” at her passing.
“The support of Susan and Isaac for the work of the museum is much appreciated,” he said.
“Her name will live on at the museum through the Susan Wakil AO Chair of Education, and also through the dedication, by Susan, in 2015 of the museum’s lower ground floor in memory of her late parents.”
Fund for Jewish Higher Education chairman Peter Wertheim praised the Wakils as “wonderfully generous benefactors”.
“Their support for the Fund for Jewish Higher Education has made a significant contribution to tertiary-level Jewish studies and teacher training at the University of Sydney. Susan’s passing is a sad loss for all of us, but especially for Isaac and other family members who were closest to her,” he said.
Noting her generous contribution to the Susan Wakil Fellowship that bears her name, Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) national chairperson Saul Burston said the organisation “deeply mourns the loss of treasured community figure, Susan Wakil”.
“We will be forever grateful to the generosity and support shown by her and Isaac. She was a remarkable woman who always put others’ interests above her own; her devotion and passion to others is an inspiration to us all.”
Outside the Jewish community, the Wakils funded a new facility to train nurses at the University of Sydney and have also been benevolent supporters of the arts.
Expressing her sympathies, University of Sydney chancellor Belinda Hutchinson said, “Their enormous generosity means Susan’s legacy will now live on in the University’s Susan Wakil Nursing School and Health Building, and the Susan Wakil Scholarship program.”
President of the Art Gallery of NSW Board of Trustees David Gonski described Wakil as “a wonderfully intelligent and generous supporter of the arts”, as well as being “wonderful company”.
“Susan and Isaac as a couple have to be one of the most important sponsors of the arts and philanthropists that we have ever had in Sydney,” he said.
“The gallery, and myself personally, are very saddened to hear of her passing.”