Mona Sutnick, 79, of Center City, who was an award-winning nutrition educator and author of the book Nutrition and Women’s Health, died Oct. 25, of complications from dementia.
When Alton Sutnick met Mona Reidenberg in 1957 at a singles dance at the Kirshenbaum Jewish Community Center in Indianapolis, he knew it was all over.
“I walked in there and I fell in love with her,” he recalled.
Sutnick, 79, of Center City, who was an award-winning nutrition educator and author of the book Nutrition and Women’s Health, died Oct. 25, of complications from dementia.
“She was a vigorous, joyful, active and productive person,” Alton said. “She was a beautiful woman. I drove her home in a convertible from the dance. I don’t know if she fell in love with me or the car.”
They got married and moved to Paris, where she spent the early part of her career as a protein chemist at the Pasteur Institute. After two years in France, they returned to Indianapolis in 1961.
In 1965, she obtained her master’s degree in nutrition from Drexel University. She taught at several Philadelphia educational institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Thomas Jefferson University and Temple University.
Sutnick also appeared frequently on television and radio as a nutrition expert and wrote a long-running food and nutrition column in the Jewish Exponent. In 1981, she earned her doctorate in nutrition education from Temple University.
Sutnick was also quite active in the Jewish community. She was the first woman elected president of the Society Hill Synagogue and served as vice president of the Philadelphia chapters of the American Associates Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the American Jewish Committee. Along with her husband, she received the AABGU Negev Award.
“It was natural for us to join a synagogue and be active in it,” Alton explained. “It meant a lot to her to be elected president of the shul. She loved the kids at Bar/Bat Mitzvahs when she presented the synagogue gifts.”
Society Hill Synagogue Rabbi Avi Winokur recalled how when he first came to Philadelphia in 2000, she welcomed him into their home for Shabbos dinner.
“My wife and I said that when we got older, they were our role models,” the rabbi said. “We wanted to be like them.”
Bob Blacksburg and his wife, Terry Novick, are members of Society Hill who have been friends with the Sutnicks for close to 40 years. Blacksburg said when he first met Mona, she instantly made him feel at home.
“She was an intensely positive person and an intensely committed person,” he said. “She was committed to helping the synagogue.”
He added the couples often spent time together socially and that when they did, Mona always cooked.
“She made sure that we ate well, whether it was in her home or otherwise,” Blacksburg said.
Sutnick, who served on the AJC board for 10 years, helped start the African American-Jewish Women’s Dialogue group and also hosted numerous programs. AJC executive director Marcia Bronstein said the most memorable one was a dialogue group with women leaders from Arab countries in the Middle East and the African American–Jewish Women’s group.
“It was a powerful session and Mona’s hospitality and graciousness added to the evening,” Bronstein said. “She was an advocate for diplomacy and intergroup understanding, and she will be missed.”
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