Sonia Pressman Fuentes

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Excerpts from Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You

  • Jewish Geography -- this story was first published in October 1998 in Der Bay, the newsletter of the International Association of Yiddish Clubs.  Here, both the English version and a version in transliterated Yiddish are available in pdf format.
  • Return to Germany -- the story of Sonia’s return to Germany in 1978 to speak about the women’s rights revolution in the US for the then-US Information Agency (USIA), published on the website of The Jewish Writing Project on Jan. 19, 2009. That story is also contained in the anthology, Marking Humanity, Stories Poems, & Essays by Holocaust Survivors, edited by Shlomit Kriger (Aug. 23, 2010, pp. 226-234).
  • If You Speak His Language --This piece was published in Tzum Punkt (Nov.-Dec. 1999, Vol. 1, No. 2)  p. 5, the newsletter of Yiddish of Greater Washington.
  • Thai Silk -- This piece was first published in the Common Law Lawyer and then on the websites of,, and (September 2001).
  • Florida and Beyond -- This excerpt appeared on May 25, 2001, in the Story Lady e-newsletter and on its website, the Jewish Frontier, the Jewish Internet magazine, the Jewish Magazine online, the e-zine, Home-Based Working Moms, and the Writer Online. Terry Boothman, the editor of the Writer Online, had this to say about it in the January 14, 2003, issue that carried the story:

    Everyone's life is interesting, right? Sure. So, everyone should write a memoir, right? Yeah, why not.. And everyone should publish a memoir, right? Good Lord, no. Because not everyone knows how to write a publishable memoir, which means a memoir that lots of other people will enjoy reading. Sonia Pressman Fuentes, one of the founders of the National Organization for Women, published just such a memoir--"Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter." Now, in How I Got My Mink Stole, excerpted from that memoir, you can get a glimpse of exactly how good memoirs are written.

  • Weinberg's Glasses - the story of what happened when Sonia's father found a pair of eyeglasses.
  • Sex Maniac -- the story of the Second Wave of the women's movement and Fuentes' role in it.  
  • Harry Golden and "the Coat" -- Sonia Fuentes sues Harry Golden, published in Jewish Currents, June 16, 1997. 
  • How I Got My Mink Stole -- a lengthy struggle with an unexpected denouement.
  • Eating Out -- published in the April 11, 2001, issue of Writer's Bloc Online, the e-newsletter of the National Writers Union.
  • Graduating With My Class -- Fuentes' desire to graduate with her high school class has a significant consequence.  Published originally in the Catskill/Hudson Jewish Star 6.2 (June 1996) 17.1 and then on Harry Leichter's website.
  • Mother and the Night School -- published in the December 2001, issue of Kolot, A World of Jewish Voices. 
  • Catskills Stories -- Some of Fuentes' stories about her experiences in the Catskill Mountains of New York State may be found at the Museum of Family History.

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cover Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You,  The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter by Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Book Ordering Information

In the United States, EAT FIRST can be ordered in paperback and hardback from,, and  The book can be ordered from in the UK and in Canada. EAT FIRST is also available for Kindle which includes free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet.

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Eat First

Eat FirstCongregation L'dor Va-dor

by Rabbi Sam Silver
Boynton Beach, Florida

Book review of Eat First--You Don't Know What they'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter. By Sonia Pressman Fuentes.

Is there a film producer out there? This book would make an exciting movie. It chronicles the trek of a family from Poland to Germany. After the Nazis came, they moved to Belgium and after that, to the Bronx, the Catskills, and Florida. The author tells of her life at Cornell; in Stamford, Connecticut; Cleveland, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; and L.A.

The film would contain some unusual scenes. One would be of a groom running away from his wedding. That was the author's father. He was brought back to the chuppah and remained married for fifty years.

Another scene would be the "accidental birth." of the author. Her mother had given birth to a son. Many years later she was pregnant again but her health was not too good. She decided to have an abortion but when she came to the office of her surgeon, he wasn't there. So she went through with the delivery of the author. The year was 1928.

Another scene would be the first meeting of NOW, the National Organization for Women, where the author was on hand alongside Betty Friedan.

The author went to the University of Miami School of Law and then became the first woman attorney to serve in the Office of the General Counsel at the EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In that capacity she wrote many decisions on behalf of women's equality. She has lectured about that throughout the world.

Women's equality was a long time coming. In one passage, she describes the status of women a few decades ago. Here is the description: "At that time, men and women lived in two different worlds. By and large, a woman's place was in the home. Her role was to marry and raise a family. If she was bright, common wisdom had it that she was to conceal her intelligence. She was to be attractive but not too attractive. She was not to have career ambitions although she could work for a few years before marriage as a secretary, saleswoman, school teacher, phone operator, or nurse. It was expected that she be a virgin when she married. When she had children she was to raise them differently so that they too would continue in the mode of behavior appropriate to their sex. If she divorced, which would reflect poorly on her, she might receive an award of alimony and child support, although it was unlikely that she would receive the money for more than a few years. If she failed to marry, she was considered an old maid, relegated to the periphery of life."

Now all that has changed, thanks to the efforts of equality battlers like the author. She herself didn't marry until her 40's. She married a Protestant Latino who had been previously married and divorced and was the father of three children. Their quest for a rabbi who would officiate at their intermarriage would make another intriguing scene in a film. Another would be the tension surrounding the birth of her daughter despite concerns about whether she could physically manage it.

The title of the book has to do with her mother's reaction to the news that the author had been invited to have dinner with a friend. She advised Sonia to eat a meal at home first because "You don't know what they'll give you."

If you buy this book, don't start reading it late in the evening. Its sprightly style and fascinating reminiscences will keep you up all night." "

July 2002