Setting off on a new adventure

Setting off on a new adventure

Teaneck woman to make aliyah — at 72

Many Resnicks are together for coffee — from left, it’s Nitzan, 8; Judi; Maytal, 15; the kids’ father, Judi’s son Benjamin; Maayan, 17, and Noam, 8.
Many Resnicks are together for coffee — from left, it’s Nitzan, 8; Judi; Maytal, 15; the kids’ father, Judi’s son Benjamin; Maayan, 17, and Noam, 8.

Not everyone is as self-aware as Judi Resnick of Teaneck.

“I’ve always been a person who’s positive about life,” Ms. Resnick said. “You don’t dwell on problems. Just forge ahead. Keep busy. Keep going.”

As she moves from adventure to adventure — “I’m always up for adventure,” she said — age is apparently irrelevant. In December, at 72, Ms. Resnick will make aliyah.

Ms. Resnick, who was born in Boston, moved to California with her parents; she went to college at UCLA. She got married in 1968 and lived in New York, then London, then Teaneck. Her then-husband (they divorced in 2000) was a financial journalist and they moved to accommodate his career.

“As a couple, we thought about making aliyah in the mid-70s,” she recalled. But not only could her husband not find a satisfactory job there, but “life was harder there” at the time. Her brother-in-law, however, did make the move in the mid-80s. “And we always traveled there, and sent our kids for summer programs and summer camp.”

Those “kids” are Benjamin, 41, and Anna, 39, who lives in Philadelphia. Benjamin moved to Israel six years ago and now has four children of his own, ranging from 8 to 17. He has smicha from Yeshiva University — he worked as a teacher in the United States — and he’s now in high tech. His wife, Yael, is a graphic designer.

There are several reasons for Ms. Resnick’s decision to make aliyah now. First, with her son and grandchildren there, “I want to be near family,” she said.

Her devotion to family is nothing new, as evidenced by her relationship with two maiden aunts. “After my parents moved to California, I still had some family in Boston. When one aunt passed in 2000, I made it my business to go there once a month to check on the other one. We went to shul, to the theater, to museums, but then she fell and needed rehabilitation and long-term care. I went there every single weekend.”

Another reason. About 18 months ago, Ms. Resnick lost a close friend, Gail Abramson. “She was my first friend in Teaneck, six months younger than me. She retired on December 31 and died three weeks later. It shook all of us up.

“At that point, I was talking about maybe retiring and maybe making aliyah. It made me think I needed to make a decision. I thought, ‘I can’t do this forever. I need to set a date, do something.’” So she got in touch with Nefesh b’Nefesh, which helps people who are planning to move to Israel. “I began to think, as one ages, where do they want to be?”

Ms. Resnick said she lived for a time in Boston with her grandmother and an aunt. “Every Friday night we put tzedakah into the blue box” — that iconic symbol from the Jewish National Fund — “before the creation of the state.” Recalling the map imprinted on the box, she said, “It contributed to my vision. I started going there in 1969 and I loved it.” She still has the box. And she remembers the thrill she had visiting places depicted in the Bible.

Although she will move to Israel in December, Ms. Resnick will leave Teaneck at the end of August. She’s planning to visit family out west. She already has had three farewell kiddushes and will have a farewell party in a few weeks. In the meantime, “I’m trying to figure out what to take in my suitcase and what to put in the lift,” she said.

Last Shabbat, she and another family making aliyah were feted at a kiddush at the Teaneck Jewish Center. “The rabbi said there would be problems,” she said. “I told my daughter that they have their problems, we have ours. They never had to deal with the Israeli banking system. And since I’m over 70, I’ll have to have a health exam before I get a new driver’s license. This is the fifth driver’s license I’ll have to apply for.”

Her absence will be strongly felt at the Center, where she has been a board member for some 35 years. She produced the shul’s monthly newsletter for 25 years and chaired the adult education committee. She also was active in Hadassah and did public relations work for JNF.

Professionally, she has worked as communications director for CAJE, as the editor of a newsletter for the pharmaceutical industry, as communications director for the Ramaz School, and, since 2013, as synagogue administrator for Teaneck’s Congregation Beth Aaron. She has been doing administrative work for Shaare Tefila, also in Teaneck, and hopes she can continue that job from Israel.

What will she do in Israel? “I don’t have hobbies like knitting,” she said. “My hobby is reading. I’ll figure out what to do with my time.” She will “find organizations where I can use my skills from here. I usually help organizations with PR flyers.” Her Hebrew, she said, “is OK, though I can’t write fluently.”

She already has started the process of finding somewhere to live, engaging a real estate agent to find a suitable rental property — she hopes in Jerusalem — and she has friends looking as well. “Many people from Beth Aaron have made aliyah, and many have sent notes telling me to get in touch,” she said. “It’s a great support system.” Her son lives in Shomron, “but I want to be in Jerusalem. It’s familiar to me.”

After finding and furnishing a home, her next job will be to join a shul, find an organization to volunteer with, and make friends.

“I’ll build my life again, which I have done before, from Boston to California to New York to London to Teaneck,” she said. “I expect to feel lonely for a while. I don’t think I’ll cry every night, but I have realistic expectations. I’m going to look at it as a great adventure and an opportunity to expand my horizons. I’ll also be closer to Europe, where I love to travel.”

She will miss her friends. She said. “Not just personal friends but the community, at the Jewish Center and Beth Aaron. And I’ll miss New York City, the theater and museums.”

“I’m working on my daughter to come,” she added. “She loves Israel but doesn’t want to live there. But her Hebrew is amazing.”

Ms. Resnick is a little nervous, but feeling good. “I’ll make it work,” she said.

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