Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Molly Resnick Mesmerizes Mayanot



As part of student enrichment, the Mayanot Women’s Program often hosts a variety of renowned speakers to give classes. On the 24th of May, Mrs. Molly Resnick was invited to talk to the students about her history, her relationship with the Rebbe and her views on the broad spectrum of the Jewish world.

The students were immediately drawn in by Molly’s dynamism and enthusiasm. Molly told of her journey from a non-observant life to a religious one, a theme that was resonant for some of the students in the class. Molly grew up in Israel, as part of a non-practicing family. She moved to the United States to pursue her goal of working in broadcasting, eventually gaining a position at NBC.

It was at the height of her success, Molly explained to the students, that she began to feel that something was missing, but she could not put her finger on what it was. She took time off work to travel around the world, hoping that her travels would provide her with some clarity. It was while she was in Brazil that she met a Chabad Shlucha who invited her for Shabbas dinner. Lighting the candles to welcome in Shabbat, Molly finally found what it was she had been looking for.  This experience mirrored that of a few of the Mayanot students, who decided to become more observant after a similar chance meeting with a Shlucha.

On her return to the United States, Molly continued to learn more about Judaism, increasing her level of observance at a speed she would never have anticipated before her trip to Brazil! It was at this time that she met and married Dr. Lawrence M. Resnick, who, among his many accomplishments, was personal physician to the Rebbe.  Molly shared her memories of the Rebbe with the students.  The Rebbe ‘took a personal interest’ in Molly’s family even recommending, Molly says, which schools and summer camps her children should attend. One particular lesson that the Rebbe taught her has always stayed with Molly, and it was this that she told the women sitting around the table: the Rebbe used to say ‘God is great; you can ask him for a lot as well as a little’. As long as you’re willing to give back as much as you ask for, you can ask God for anything. It was the Rebbe’s way, Molly stated, of making everyone understand the power that they held, that they could do so much more if they set their minds to it.

Molly went on to extol the virtues of living an observant life. ‘Chassidus says that every neshama was present at the giving of the Ten Commandments. Therefore, our souls are restless if we are not doing what we are meant to do – we have to repair the world with Godliness.’ Molly made the point that the major ideas of our time, such as Communism and psychoanalysis have come from Jews. However, Molly argues, Marx and Freud have also been ‘destructive’ because they were not ‘directed by God’. ‘We’re never comfortable’, she says, ‘until we’re fulfilling God’s mission – Torah, Mitzvot and preparing for the redemption.’

‘Yiddishkeit is everything true and beautiful’, Molly enthused, and as such, she argues, ‘we should consult the Torah for modern problems, and not psychology.’ Molly told the students that she believes religious Jews rely on modernity too much and fighting the influx of the secular world into the religious one is her mission.

The students had many questions for Molly, some asking about the difficulties of transitioning from a non-observant to religious life, some debating the virtue of arranged marriages in today’s world and others wanting to know whether it was difficult to begin wearing a sheitel. The range of questions and the interesting textual debate, initiated by the students, which followed the question on arranged marriages showed their engagement with Molly’s class.

Molly’s religious journey took her from a secular life in Israel to a religious one in New York, to a career based on television to a life where it is banned in her home because it is ‘bad for the neshama’, from a time when she was climbing the professional ladder without finding fulfillment, to a time when she had a loving a marriage and is surrounded by children and grandchildren.  The paths leading to an observant life are always individual and personal; the students at Mayanot were lucky to have heard Molly’s colorful, entertaining story of her journey to observance and her passion for yiddishkeit. No doubt it was an influential afternoon, not soon to be forgotten by the Mayanot students.