1880 – 1965
Freda Resnikoff was a founder and dedicated leader of the Mizrachi Women’s Organization and mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law of three of its national presidents. The matriarch of a family of ten children, Resnikoff was well known in Orthodox circles for her volunteer work, fund-raising, and unending hospitality.
Freda (Wolfson) Resnikoff was born in Kazhimirov, Russia, to Lifsa Krachek and Rabbi Meir Wolfson, a renowned scholar. Reb Meir headed the town’s elementary yeshiva, while his wife ran the general store. Freda had one sister, Baila, and three brothers, Elimelech, Beryl, and Shlomo.
In 1897, Freda married twenty-two-year-old Hyman (Chaim Yitzchak) Resnikoff, a scholar and, by profession, a barber who manufactured a kosher shaving powder. He escaped the czar’s army in 1905 and fled to the United States. Freda Resnikoff, with an infant and three young children, arrived in New York in 1907. The family settled on New York’s Lower East Side.
In 1910, Resnikoff helped to found Bnos Mizrachi, serving as secretary and treasurer. This group marked the origins of the educational network that was incorporated as Mizrachi Women in 1925 and is today called amit.
In 1922, the family moved to a four-story brownstone on South Tenth Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There, Resnikoff organized a chapter involving the women of Young Israel and of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. Her Yiddish handwritten book of meeting minutes and records of more than a decade is a family treasure.
The Resnikoff home was a center of family life and holiday gatherings for relatives, with a constant flow of visitors from Europe and Israel. Freda Resnikoff’s philanthropies included Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva in Brooklyn, which her husband helped to found. Out-of-town students or those fleeing from Russia were taken in as boarders, and some stayed for years. Resnikoff instilled in her children a great respect for scholarship, a fierce sense of loyalty to family, and a strong belief in acts of loving-kindness.
All of Resnikoff’s daughters, as they married, became members of their local Mizrachi Women chapter, as did her daughters-in-law. Her daughter-in-law Nathalie Resnikoff and daughter Dvorah Rabinowitz Masovetsky became national presidents, a position held today by Evelyn Blachor, Resnikoff’s granddaughter-in-law. Elissa Chesir, her granddaughter, is a current national vice president.
When her husband died at age sixty in 1935 as the result of an accident, Resnikoff, with the three youngest children still living at home, kept the family together and her home intact. Freda Resnikoff died at age eighty-five on April 29, 1965, in Brooklyn, New York.
AJYB, 67:540; AMIT Women. Jerusalem Chug I and Jerusalem Chug II Souvenir Journal. June 2, 1996; Blachor, Isaac [grandson]. Interview by author, July 15, 1996; Obituary. NYTimes, April 30, 1965; Resnikoff Family Tree. August 1965; Septimus, Helen Wilkenfeld [daughter]. Interview by author, July 24, 1996.