10.24.08

Sidney Resnick

Born on Jan. 17, 1922
Departed on Oct. 24, 2008 and resided in Hamden, CT.

Sid Resnick, 86, of Hamden , died on Friday, October 24, 2008 . He was the husband of Arlene Resnick, who died in 2007. He was the father of three children, Naomi ( Stanley ) Schwartz of Providence, RI., Ruth Resnick (Roger) Johnson of Hamden, and Eugene V. Resnick of New York City . Sid is survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Estelle and George Holt of New York City , his sister-in-law Bertha Burg of Hamden, and six grandchildren, Rebecca, Ezra, and Ben Schwartz and Gabe, Ahna, and David Johnson. He is also survived by four nieces and nephews, Lenore (Michael) Darcy, Stanley (Molly) Burg, David (Jean) Burg, Estelle (Joseph) Meyer, as well as grandnieces and grandnephews. He also leaves behind lifelong, and recent, friends from the many circles of interest in his life. 

Sid was born on January 17, 1922 in the Bronx , New York , the son of Sophie and Harry Resnick. Sophie was a garment worker and union organizer for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union . In 1928, his sister Estelle was born and they remained very close. Sid and Estelle grew up with their mother in the Bronx during the Great Depression. As a teenager, to supplement the family income, Sid sold the Daily Worker on the Lexington Avenue subway train and delivered bread to local grocery stores in the morning before going to school. 

Sid attended public schools in the Bronx as well as schools that were part of the Yiddish Socialist shule (school) movement. He was fluent in Yiddish, the traditional language of European Jews. The Yiddish language and literature were of central importance to Sid throughout his life. He fondly remembered reciting, as a young shule student, the poem “Yingl Tsingl Khvat” by Mani Leyb in the presence of the poet. 

During World War II, Sid, eager to help in the fight against fascism, enlisted in the Air Force and served in a mapping unit in New Guinea and the Philippines . In 1948, his political activities led him to move to Connecticut . He lived in Waterbury and worked briefly at a brass mill before working as an organizer for the Henry Wallace presidential campaign. That same year he met Arlene Kaezor. Their first date was a fund-raising concert by Paul Robeson for the Wallace campaign. Sid and Arlene were married in June, 1949. The Resnicks’ first two children, Naomi and Ruth, were born in the next two years. 

Motivated by a strong sense of decency and justice for working people, Sid joined the Communist Party in his youth. After he moved to Connecticut , he joined the statewide committee of the party. Activists in the Communist Party came under increasing scrutiny by the federal government during the years of the McCarthy “witch-hunt” of the 1950s. In 1954, Sid and six other leaders of the party in Connecticut were arrested under the Smith Act, which defined mere membership in the Communist Party as an illegal activity. Their case was eventually dismissed after the Supreme Court ruled that such prosecutions violated the First Amendment’s free speech provisions. 

Sid began working for Columbia Printing Company in 1954. He worked as a compositor, putting together pages of moveable type and getting them ready for press. He stayed on until 1980 when Columbia completed the shift to more modern printing methods. 

The Resnicks moved to an apartment on Valley Street in New Haven in 1958. Their third child, Eugene, was born in 1964. Sid left the Communist Party in 1967, but remained active in political movements for the remainder of his life. He was active in the civil rights and peace movements in New Haven and took part in many meetings and rallies, including the historic March on Washington on August 28, 1963 . He worked closely with the Yiddish left-wing daily newspaper, the Morgen Freiheit. For several decades, he wrote articles and translated pieces from Yiddish to English. Sid was also active in working toward a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, one that would respect the humanity and dignity of those on both sides of the conflict. He worked most recently with the New Haven chapter of the group Brit Tzedek v’Shalom. Sid was active on the Editorial Advisory Board of Jewish Currents, a progressive, secular magazine, from the 1970s until recently. Sid also worked for Green Party candidates and progressive Democratic Party candidates. 

Over the years, Sid spoke frequently at meetings of political and community groups on a wide range of topics. Sid was an engaging speaker. He was able to discuss a broad range of issues–whether about the Middle East , the Soviet Union , or issues closer to home–and to examine their historical roots. 

Sid began working for the Yale University Law School as a library worker in 1981. In many ways, this was Sid’s most enjoyable work experience. Soon after he began working at Yale, a union drive began among the clerical and technical workers. Sid quickly became active in the drive. The union won an election in 1983, but was not recognized by the university. A ten-week contentious strike in 1984 resulted in Local 34 of the Federation of University Employees winning recognition and a contract. Sid walked the picket line every morning, as did Arlene, who worked in the Yale School of Medicine, and proudly noted the high level of participation of workers in his unit. Sid gave a rousing speech at one of the union’s major rallies during the strike. Sid remained active with the union until his retirement from Yale in 1992, and was a vocal member of the Local 34 retirees’ group. 

Sid’s love of language remained undiminished throughout his life. Since the 1980s, Sid chaired the Yale- New Haven Yiddish Leyen Kreiz (reading circle), a weekly, intergenerational group. Sid enjoyed the linguistic, as well as the social, aspects of this ongoing activity. He was also determined to gain fluency in Russian. Russian grammar books and index cards were always close at hand. Recently, Sid took great pleasure in tutoring a Yale graduate student in Yiddish. These sessions continued until the last week of Sid’s life. 

Sid and Arlene moved to Hamden in 1995. They were very pleased to live near three of their grandchildren in whom they helped instill a love of reading and who they often took on daytrips to Connecticut points of interest. They took great pleasure in taking, in rotation, Gabe, Ahna, and David out to dinner. Sid was deeply saddened by the death of his wife and best friend, Arlene, last year, but he continued to remain active, intellectually engaged, and greatly interested in the lives of friends and family. 

Sid was a loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and uncle, a great friend to many, a tireless political activist, and a sensitive, rigorous, self-taught intellectual. He had a wonderful sense of humor and a great enthusiasm for life. Sid’s passions were wide reaching–from Yiddish poetry, to identifying species of trees, to finding the best Italian bread. Sid’s life was animated by the vision of a more just, humane, and decent world. His absence will be deeply felt by all those who knew him.

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