In Memoriam: Resa Rudney—our Grande Dame of Volunteerism

On Monday February 8, Resa Rudney passed away peacefully in her sleep. 

Seven years ago, Resa Rudney spoke at the Sisterhood of Mail Line Reform about HIAS Pennsylvania and its clients. With that call to arms, Main Line Reform became one of HIAS Pennsylvania’s best supporters. She inspired her fellow congregants to open their hearts to refugees.

What started as a collection for cleaning supplies and coats became a full calendar of annual donation events. As collections became too numerous for the lobby of Main Line Reform, they moved to a warehouse, which fellow Main Line Reform congregants Adele Marguiles and Linda Brock organize. Other congregants including Avivah Pinski chose to volunteer in other ways, such as providing in-depth help to families through our American Friend program. We honored her in 2013, and you can hear from her own lips what she believed in the video on the right.

Resa was a wonderful humanitarian whose contributions knew no boundaries (figuratively and literally). Born in Mississippi, Resa experienced the civil rights movement as a Jew in the South, always embracing equality.   She combined her commitments to refugees with an incredible ability to organize and inspire others. 

It was impossible to say "no" to Resa; once, years ago, the mother of a Burmese family she was mentoring showed Resa how well she could knit.  Resa showed her how to make a kippot, and then convinced the Jewish Museum to sell it in their shop.  Always making a connection, this was the first Burmese made kippot in Philadelphia.  To this day, that family, which moved out of state, calls her "mother."

In the end, Resa was cared for by a Liberian attendant.  At first, she wanted a female attendant, but after she heard his story, she said she only wanted him and connected him with HIAS Pennsylvania.

Resa’s impact was so widespread that it affected other volunteers in other congregations. In the coming days we will post other tributes from volunteers who were affected by Resa’s firm but quiet heroism.

Her children, Michael and Alice, visited her constantly, as well as her grandchildren.  She was able to meet her newest great grandchild before her passing. Her wishes were to remain in her apartment until the end, which she did.

We will truly miss this inspiring woman.

Read more about her here.

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