Pearl Resnick’s father immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine before World War I, intending to send soon for his pregnant wife and three daughters. But the war broke out, there was a ban on American visas, and Resnick’s family was not reunited here for nearly a decade.
But Mrs. Resnick, a major philanthropist who died this week of pneumonia at 87 in a West Palm Beach, Fla., hospital, would later share pleasant memories of her hometown, Okna, a shtetl near Odessa where horseback Cossacks would lead anti-Jewish raids during her childhood. "It was the only home I knew, and I was perfectly happy and content."
Mrs. Resnick, who lived in West Palm Beach and Manhattan, was the matriarch of a prominent New York real estate family and a supporter of several Jewish causes.
"I am happiest when I’m giving and extremely grateful that I can," she said in 1995, as guest of honor at a 40th anniversary celebration of Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
"We always knew we had to dedicate part of our lives to tzedakah," Mrs. Resnick said of her first years in Manhattan, where her family owned a candy store. "My parents didn’t have much, but there was always a pushke in the house and they brought me up to always share what I had with people who needed it more."
Mrs. Resnick, who briefly worked as a secretary for a book publishing company, in 1932 married Jack Resnick, who opened a one-man real estate office that grew into Jack Resnick & Sons, one of the city’s leading real estate development and construction firms. Mr. Resnick died in 1991; the couple’s son, Burton, now heads the firm.
The Resnicks helped finance the Jack and Pearl Resnick Film Division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, and established the Jack and Pearl Resnick Gerontology Center and the Jack and Pearl Resnick Fellowship at Albert Einstein, in the Bronx. Mrs. Resnick, a trustee of Yeshiva University and a member of the medical school’s board of overseers, also endowed an academic chair in brain tumor research at the medical school in memory of her daughter, Susan Resnick Fisher, who died in 1993.
In recognition of the couple’s support, the Albert Einstein campus was named for Jack and Pearl Resnick in 1990.
"The Yeshiva University family is profoundly grieved by the passing of a dear friend, distinguished humanitarian and communal leader who was the matriarch of a family that has long played a leadership role," said Dr. Norman Lamm, the university’s president. "She was widely beloved for her sterling character, inspiring personality, warmth and grace, and we will miss her greatly."
Mrs. Resnick was a member of boards of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the Hebrew Home for the Aged in Riverdale and Bar-Ilan University. She was also an active supporter of State of Israel Bonds, UJA-Federation, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, the Anti-Defamation League, Sutton Place Synagogue and the International Synagogue at Kennedy Airport.
Mrs. Resnick is survived by two sons, Burton of Rye, and Ira Resnick of Manhattan; a daughter, Marilyn Katz of Purchase; a sister, Anna Sherman of Yonkers; 10 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.