“I know when it’s time to step back and let someone else lead” — paying tribute to outgoing UJC treasurer David Resnick
David Resnick is not your average bright-eyed, bushy-tailed community leader. Instead, he is an unrepentant realist; someone who recognises the intense challenges and difficulties of the job, and the sacrifices necessary to carry it out.
David has worked as a community volunteer leader for decades. But it certainly wasn’t a natural calling. On the contrary, he actively tried to avoid communal involvement, having seen the effect it had on his late father.
“My father [Bennie] was known as ‘Mr Community’,” David recalls. “He was trustee and president of the Gardens Shul and active in all manner of communal affairs. But the weight of his community work bore heavily on him – the issues he dealt with on a daily basis and the problems he encountered.
“I promised myself never to get involved. But I guess I must have forgotten, because all the things I swore I would never do, I did.”
And yet despite his reluctance, his active shunning of the limelight, David Resnick has been a true community soldier. Indeed, he has spent so long in the trenches, serving on the UJC executive committee and as the organisation’s treasurer, he can’t even recall when exactly he started.
David began his life as a community volunteer in that staple for the civically-minded parent — the school PTA.
“I’m not really sure how it happened — somebody twisted my arm, I saw the need, filled the role, then just rolled with it. Before I knew it, I was Herzlia Middle School PTA treasurer and then UHS executive treasurer for five years.”
The latter role was particularly challenging, requiring David to navigate a series of complex, highly sensitive issues. One of the most challenging, he says, was the formation of the UHS teachers’ union.
“We had to balance the books, and ensure, at the same time, that the teachers were fairly remunerated, that we retained our staff, and that everyone was happy. However, I quickly learnt that a good deal means both sides are unhappy — that became my mantra for resolving these kinds of conflicts. That is the true meaning of compromise.”
Unsurprisingly, David regards compromise as the cornerstone of communal affairs.
“You can solve any issue no matter how heated. As long as you listen and take everyone’s perspective into account — and not just talk over people — reasonable compromises are always possible.”
It wasn’t always easy. Especially since, as treasurer, the buck literally stopped with him.
“I took a few blows on the chin, but I soldiered on, because I’m a fighter not a quitter.”
Of course it hasn’t always been stressful and relentless. Along the way David has made lifelong friends and shared many great memories.
“My fondest memories are of post-meeting debriefings in the parking lot with my colleagues, that’s when the actual strategising starts, when the real magic happens. Some meetings would end at 10pm and I’d only get home at 12.”
David’s conscientiousness, together with his reluctance to occupy the limelight, meant that, with each leadership role, he would hand over the reins “as soon as I found someone I could rely on who could do the job better.”
“I think I’ve always been a team player,” he says. Everything I’ve accomplished has been a collaborative effort. I’m not in it for the kavod, and thankfully I’ve never needed praise or a pat on the back to do the work I need to do.”
Indeed, David has brought this same loyalty and dedication to his professional career.
“I don’t have much of a CV because I’ve only had one job my whole life,” he says. “I joined Mazars — which was called Baker Rabkin at the time — on temporary assignment in June 1976. I’m still there 46 years later.”
David is proud of having worked with many outstanding leaders over the years. The Cape Town Jewish community is known worldwide for being well run, and he says it “has been an honour to serve this amazing collective.”
And what now for David Resnick? Is the man who swore all those years ago never to be involved in communal work finally going to fulfill that promise to himself?
“Not really”, he says with a smile. “I’ll still be involved in a few foundations and organisations. This will give me some breathing space. You have to know when it’s time to step back and let someone else lead.
“I’m sure my Dad would be proud of my involvement,” he adds. “And that’s all the reward I need.”
Interview by Simon Apfel
A tribute from Barry Levitt, Executive Director UJC
David’s concern for the wellbeing of the community is evident in the invaluable support he garners for the UJC from the Trusts he represents.
Being quick-witted and with a sense of humour to boot, David has provided light relief in many a meeting when heated debate has taken place. His affable demeanour and sound logic made him a dependable member of our EXCO meetings, of which he missed very few.
The commitment and enormous amount of time David has spent over the last 17 years as the Treasurer of the UJC is commendable and is an example to the younger members of our community. We are immensely grateful to him for his guidance and dedication.
A prouder husband, father and grandfather you will not find. David just celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary with his wife Lynette — ‘soul mate for 46 years’. They have 3 children, Brandon, Gary and Estee and two beautiful grandchildren — all currently living abroad in the US and Israel. David has often proclaimed, ‘Our children and grandchildren are our gift from Hashem’.
David is a true mensch. We wish him well in all his future endeavours.
Published in the PDF edition of the May 2022 issue – Click here to read it.
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