It’s not easy to pinpoint the geographic location from which Ariel Resnik made aliyah.
Technically speaking, he had been in the former Soviet republic of Georgia for about a month and a half before coming to northern Israel for a family reunion prompted by a cousin’s bat mitzvah in 2014.
But Georgia is just a little dot on the map of his nomadic travels over the course of a decade. Having left his native Sydney straight after high school – his first international journey was a Taglit-Birthright trip at the end of December 2003 – he rarely remained in one place for long except for a couple of years in South America.
“After the trip to Israel, I crossed the border through Gaza to Egypt. Then I flew to Europe and – long story short – had my bags stolen in the south of Spain. It was a life-changing experience because I ended up meeting a young Spanish medical student who looked after me in my hour of need and introduced me to a form of travel that I became addicted to,” Resnik explains.
“After the trip to Israel, I crossed the border through Gaza to Egypt. Then I flew to Europe and – long story short – had my bags stolen in the south of Spain. It was a life-changing experience because I ended up meeting a young Spanish medical student who looked after me in my hour of need and introduced me to a form of travel that I became addicted to,”Ariel Resnik
That form of travel was seeing the world through the eyes of locals, crashing on their couches and getting to know the culture and language through everyday interactions.
“I spent a few weeks with the medical student and his friends. We’re still friends today. We’ve met in many countries around the world,” Resnik says. “Had I not had that experience, I’m not sure my life would have taken the same path.”
In between his backpacking voyages, he managed to earn an undergraduate degree in business marketing, spending a few semesters in Sydney and Melbourne and one semester as an exchange student in the Netherlands.
“Any moment I wasn’t studying, I was traveling,” he says.
At the time of the cousin’s bat mitzvah in Israel, he’d been moving around Asia and Europe for a few years, pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors. Little did he know he’d soon be storing away the backpack.
“At the family reunion, my uncle got inside my head a little and said I should settle down. He suggested Tel Aviv. So I went to Tel Aviv, and I liked the energy there. I decided to stay for the summer. It’s been a really long summer,” he jokes.
About five years ago he met his future wife, actress Oshrat Ingedashet, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent.
“There was an energy between us that I’d never felt before. We come from such different backgrounds, but we connected and built a family together.” Their son, now a year and a half, hears Hebrew from his mother and English from his father.
Starting the Glassworks center in Israel
RESNIK NOT only settled down in Tel Aviv but also started an unusual business there: the Glassworks center for advanced optical services, “a gallery meets a café in a beautiful and relaxing environment.”
“We’ve created something quite special, a shop unlike any other. I was a ‘professional guest’ in so many people’s homes, and I bring that perspective with me in hosting clients and becoming close with them,” Resnik explains.
“This is not a typical shop where people put pressure on you to buy. We’re there to entertain, inform, educate and help clients make good decisions. We’re not fixing global warming or child poverty. But we impact lots of people’s lives in a positive way, every day, by helping them see well and feel great about the glasses they’re wearing, and doing it in a really genuine and honest way.”
Glassworks opened in June 2020 as the second iteration of Resnik’s foray into optometry. Previously he had a shop in Jaffa where he sold a line of sunglasses that a friend from Sydney had introduced him to.
Located in a 1920s Art Deco-style building on Nahalat Binyamin Street, Glassworks was designed by architect Alex Nicholls, who is originally from Sydney, in collaboration with Resnik. Gallery lighting and high ceilings highlight Glassworks’ uncluttered space, where customers will not find big-brand frames but rather small-batch eyewear imported from independent designers in Italy, Japan, Spain and Hong Kong.
Resnik’s business partner, Noah Rappeport, is an optometrist born in Australia and raised in Israel. His specialty is complex vision issues.
“Noah is a vision scientist,” says Resnik. “He teaches at Bar-Ilan, and he’s an amazing clinician and incredible human being. At the moment, we have two other optometrists working with him.”
Having an on-site lab allows them to control the entire process. “Optics is all about precision,” says Resnik. “Getting it off by a millimeter can negatively impact clients’ quality of life.”
Glassworks has clients from across Israel. “It’s very heartwarming that people drive from the far corners of the country to be looked after by us,” says Resnik. “It’s really rewarding helping people improve their vision.”
Resnik remains close with his parents – a human rights lawyer and a financial services entrepreneur, respectively. “I talk to my dad a few times a week; he’s my mentor in business and in general, and he loves coming here,” says Resnik.
Though many people would say that Resnik’s world travels were brave, he believes it was far braver to embrace stability, as settling down forced him to confront himself and his past.
And anyway, life in Israel is always a bit of an adventure.
“This is a fascinating part of the world, a crazy place. And the more time I spend in it, sometimes I feel the less I understand it,” he says.
“I felt I wanted to know more, to peel back some of the layers to get a deeper understanding of the culture and maybe my own identity, which maybe I’d run away from a little. I’ve been on a tremendous personal journey, and now I am much more at ease with myself. I have a beautiful wife and child, and I’m part of a community. I definitely feel I’ve managed to put down roots.”■
Ariel Resnik, 37 From Australia to Tel Aviv, 2014