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 FirstBook Review


May 2, 2001

I wanted to go to law school and everyone thought I was crazy. I was turned down for jobs, and I accepted it ヨ just like you don't get upset when your office tells you that you have to wear clothes to go to work. That's the way the world was. It's how women were treated.

Sonia Pressman Fuentes reflects ruefully on the days before sexual equality was enshrined in law. Her own sense of impotence though was short lived. During the 1960s she was to become one of the architects of America's emerging women's movement and to this day, she plays an active role in destroying gender barriers.

Eat First - You Don't Know What They'll Give You is Sonia's story, a warm and humorous account of how a child refugee from Nazi Germany helped reshape the world: I can't tell you how tremendous the change is, she says. Every time I go on an aeroplane and see a stewardess who's over 32 or married, I'm aware of it, because I helped put her on that plane.

Sonia's opportunity to effect change came in 1965 when she became the first woman attorney in the General Counsel's office of the Equal Opportunity Commission. In the years that followed she helped found the National Organisation of Women and became the highest paid woman at two multi-national corporations.

Her impact though has been felt far beyond America. As well as travelling extensively as a speaker on women's rights, she also gave testimony to a House of Lords committee when the UK was investigating anti-sex discrimination legislation. It's a far cry from those early days, Sonia recalls: "It was inconceivable when we started the revolution that we would make. We were a very small group, we were upset about certain things but we didn't envisage such a worldwide revolution.

Already a university text book, Eat First provides sociologists with a fascinating insight into the fight for sexual equality. But Sonia's story is far from just the stuff of academia. The title alone reveals the typically Jewish warmth and humour which the author brings to her memoirs. Harry Belafonte singing Hava Nagila, for instance, prompts a response from her Polish father which will strike a chord with anyone with parents or grandparents from 'the old country': Howja like dot? Herry Belafonte turns out to be a Jew! he exclaims. But Sonia's mother is on hand to correct him: モNot dot. Dat. T-h-a-t. Dat. Harry's heritage is beyond question.

Packed full of amusing anecdotes and recollections, Eat First is as entertaining as it is informative. And though she looks back fondly, and proudly, on her achievements Sonia's the first to admit the struggle is far from over: モIn many third world countries, the status of women is terrible. For example they have female genital mutilation going on and they're still selling women into marriage. It's horrendous. However, so long as there are those prepared to pick up Sonia's baton, the world can still be knocked into shape.