Political activist, artist Judith Sonett dies at 81


Judith Sonett, a local political and social activist, died peacefully in her home on April 18, 2019. She was 81.

A New York native, born in Manhattan on March 7, 1938, she grew up in an artistic household.

Her father, Alex Redein, was prominent in the garment industry as well as a renowned artist. Her mother Miriam owned an art gallery.

Throughout her life, she was spirited and attacked everything she did with gusto.

A graduate of Villanova University where she studied criminology and family therapy, she married Alan Sonett, a psychiatrist, and raised two sons. With her family, she lived in Amsterdam before returning to the States, residing primarily in the Philadelphia suburbs. There, she became a social worker and juvenile probation officer, working with children in the Philadelphia community.

Moving with Alan to North Carolina in 1980, she became involved in local town politics, again with the desire to help those in need.

Widowed in 1983, she returned to New York, where she remarried to Joseph Gordon, her partner for more than 31 years. She then resumed her activism by joining the staff of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, and served as chief ombudsman for 10 years. In 2002, she was elected Democratic district leader for the 81st Assembly District. She continued her career in progressive politics for more than 20 years.

After working for Assemblyman Dinowitz, she joined state Sen. Eric Schneiderman’s team as director of Bronx operations, and subsequently for state Sen. Efrain Gonzalez, and lastly for state Sen. Adriano Espaillat.

She worked tirelessly to serve the public interest by helping to identify community concerns, facilitate communication among those in her districts.

In 2017, she was among those honored during the Jewish American Heritage Community month for community service, and in 2018, she was again honored by the Ben Franklin Reform Democratic Club with its Longtime Community Advocate award.

She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and friend to many. A strong and successful woman in so many ways, she has left a legacy of humor, wit and fierce passion for fighting for what you believe. She will be missed.

She is survived by her husband Joseph Gordon, two children Jonathan and Joshua Sonett, step-children Tony and Alicia Gordon, sister and brother-in-law Deborah and Paul Aronson, as well as her six grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at the Riverdale Temple on June 2 at 12:30 p.m.

Gifts in memory of Judy Sonett can be made payable to Columbia University to Support Pulmonary Research in care of Dr. Angela DiMango, and mailed to the Office of Development, Attn: Jamie Montgomery, 516 W. 168th St., Floor 3, New York, N.Y., 10032.


Judith Sonett,