- Stories & Articles by Sonia
Articles and Stories by Sonia Pressman Fuentes
- In Memoriam: Lynn Ruth Miller.
- On July 29, 2020, the new website of the Cornell Club of Sarasota-Manatee was launched. It included Sonia's article on her friendship with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
- Sonia's article, "The Meadows has a fascinating history," appeared in the online newspaper, the Sarasota News Leader, on Sept. 13, 2019. Sonia bought a condo at The Meadows in March 1999 and thereafter spent varying amounts of time there during the winters. Beginning on Nov. 1, 2006, she lived there full-time until Nov. 1, 2019, when she moved to a nearby Jewish senior community called Aviva. In early January 2020, The Meadoword, the newspaper of The Meadows, republished that article. You can access it here.
- Sonia's article, "How Being an Immigrant Shaped My Life," appeared in the summer newsletter of the Jewish Genealogical Society of SW Florida, published on April 3, 2019, and on its website. You can read the article in pdf format here.
- On Jan. 14, 2019, Sonia's remembrance of her late, feminist friend, Dr. Bernice "Bunny" Sandler (known as the "Godmother of Title IX"), who died at the age of 90 on Jan. 5, 2019, in her Washington, D.C. condo, was published in the "We Remember" section of the Jewish Women's Archive (JWA).
- On Nov. 1, 2018, a paperback anthology of writings by older women about their lives entitled “You’re Doing What?: Older Women’s Tales of Achievement & Adventure,” edited by Marjorie Penn Lasky, was published. In a section called " A Life of Activism," it contains a piece by Sonia named "Eighty-five years old in Sarasota County, Florida." The book can be purchased from Amazon. For purchases in bulk, Regent Press (email@example.com) will take orders for 10 or more books and provide them at a discount.
- Sonia's write-up of her experiences with Hurricane Irma in Sarasota in September of 2017 appeared in the Cornell Alumni Magazine of July/Aug. 2018 in the Class Notes for her class, the class of 1950, on page 69.
- On March 20, 2018, Mary Wilson, president of the Greater Orlando, FL chapter of NOW, put Sonia's write-up on how she became a feminist in the chapter's enewsletter.
- In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, 2018, The Forward newspaper shared its readers' stories, including Sonia's.
- Sonia participates in a one-hour webinar set up by the National Women's History Project (NWHP) on Jan. 13, 2016. 1) Click here to read about NWHP. 2) To listen to the oral comments and see the written comments, click on "webinar archive" toward the bottom of your screen. On the "webinar archive" screen, it is, however, very difficult to move the written comments up or down. 3) To get a clearer view of the written comments and to be able to move them up and down easily, click on "Chat Log." 4) Click on "Final PowerPoint Presentation" if you would like to see that.
- Sonia's article on the second wave of the women's movement: its origin, accomplishments, and the problems that remain--both in the U.S. and globally--appeared on June 14, 2015, on the website of the Institute for Science and Human Values.
- Sonia's write-up appeared on the Facebook page of the Red Star Line Museum commemorating the 81st anniversary of the arrival in the U.S. from Germany, via Belgium, of Sonia and the rest of her immediate family.
- "My Jewish Weekend in Sarasota," sent by Sonia to her friends, Nov. 16, 2014.
- "History Without Hitler?", Op-Ed in the New York Times and its international edition, October 26, 2014. This Op-Ed was written by Sonia's friend, Timothy Ryback, and edited by Sonia.
- "End of Life Issue," October 16, 2014.
- “Top 18 Issues Challenging Women Today,” The Shriver Report, May 5, 2014.
- Sonia’s letter of April 16, 2014, to Bishop Frank J. DeWane, bishop of the Venice, FL diocese, is on the blog of Bridget Mary Meehen.
- “The Second Wave of the Women’s Movement—Past, Present, and Future,” Women You You Should Know website, March 26, 2014.
- Sonia reminisces about her three British feminist friends, March 25, 2014.
- Sonia’s article about her trip to the Catskills appeared in the Jewish News of Sarasota-Manatee (Jan. 2014, Vol. 44, No. 1, p. 23A).
- Three-part series by Sonia in the Sullivan County Democrat, a newspaper in the Catskill Mountains of New York State.
- Sonia’s submission to the book Mother Knows Better - Sense and Nonsense from American Moms by Patti Murphy is one of over two hundred momisms in the book.
- Sonia’s article about the travails of The Forward after Superstorm Sandy appeared in Der Bay (Vol. XXIII, No. II, Mar.-Apr. 2013, p. 12).
- NOW (National Organization for Women) Founder Sonia Fuentes Gives Back To Education.
- "A heart-healthy diet is easier to adhere to than it may seem, especially with plenty of grocery and restaurant choices in Sarasota," December 7, 2012. (To see this article, which first appeared in the online Sarasota News Leader, once the large picture appears, scroll down to the article.) On April 27, 2015, the article was published on the website of Vegan Everyday Stories. On May 22, 2015, a shortened version of the article appeared on the website of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.
- “A Journey of Discovery,” Sonia’s article about her September 2011 week’s trip to Germany exploring Jewish life in Germany, published in two parts.
- "Finding My Identity as a Feminist" - This article appeared in the online magazine, Identity, on September 21, 2011.
- "My Story" - This article appeared in HavaMag, Issue 4, August, 2011.
- To access the article:
- Click on the arrow to the right until it takes you to the Table of Contents on the left.
- Click on the first item in the Table of Contents, which is the article about Sonia, on page 10.
- When you come to the article, double click on each page to make the type readable.
- To access the article:
- "First Woman: Sonia Pressman Fuentes," appeared at the end of July 2011 in Ms. JD, an e-zine for women law students and lawyers.
- “Judging Our Future: Supreme Women Move Up,” about the increasing percent of women judges on the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts, went online in the Café section of On the Issues e-zine on December 21, 2010. In February of 2012, the article was added to the featured news & comments section of the website of Cornell University’s Avon Global Center for Women and Justice.
- "Advancing Rights: 1964 Marks the Beginning of a New Era" - This article was published in On The Issues Magazine, Café section, on August 25, 2010, in celebration of Women’s Equity Day, the 90th anniversary of suffrage, August 26, 2010.
- Sonia has written articles for Scitable, a website for women in science, or been introduced as a resource on women and employment law for Scitable, as follows:
- Sonia decries American women’s ignorance of the legal rights they have achieved since the early 1960s and lists those rights. (August 13, 2013)
- Sonia discusses breast implant ruptures and leaks. (Mar. 21, 2011)
- "Sonia Pressman Fuentes on Pregnancy Leave, Parental Care Leave, and the Law" - Sonia explains the law on leave and benefits in connection with pregnancy, delivery, and post-delivery. (July 28, 2010)
- Correction to posting of June 3, 2010, introducing Sonia as Scitable’s resource on women and employment law. (June 4, 2010)
- Sonia is introduced as Scitable’s resource on women and employment law. (June 3, 2010)
- "My Life After Divorce" - Sonia discusses her life after divorce for a “Divorce and Women’s Success” series. (2010)
- "A Negative Experience, A Positive Outcome" - The lucky day Fuentes was fired. (2009)
- "First Wedding at the Fontainebleau," an unpublished anecdote, November 23, 2008.
- Added as a Luminary on inspiremetoday.com, Oct. 2009, and updated in Nov. 2013.
- “If You Build It, They Will Come—The Birth of A Yiddish Club,” published in Der Bay, The International Anglo-Yiddish Newsletter (Vol. XVII, No. 9, Nov. 2007). Sonia starts a Yiddish Club in Sarasota, FL. Also published in the Gantseh Megillah. (Nov. 14, 2007, Issue 8.10)
- "My Fortuitous Escape from the Holocaust and My Life Thereafter" - This article is published on a Web site called "Women and the Holocaust." (2006)
- “A Love Letter to Ostuni” (2005)
- "My Visit to Piltz" - A sequel to "A Visit to Piltz." (2005)
- "Three-hour Tour Turns Unforgettable" - This article, by Fuentes, recalling the saga of her trip to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford estates in Ft. Myers, FL, appeared in The East County Observer, a newspaper in East Manatee and Sarasota Counties, Florida, January 16, 2003.
- "A Special Bond" - Sonia wrote an article about the water exercise class she attended at the Y on Potter Park Drive in Sarasota starting in 2003.
- "I Lucky Everything: The Story of a Real `Miss Saigon'" - Along with a manicure, a reminder of how immigrants revitalize our nation. (2002)
- "A Visit to Piltz" - This article is about Fuentes' August 2001 journey to her parents' birthplace, a village called Piltz in Poland. (2001)
- "How I Built a Life in Retirement" - Sonia had a difficult time adjusting to retirement, and then she entered the best years of her life. (2000)
- "How I Published My Memoir: A Lawyer-Feminist's Story" - This is the story of the six years Fuentes spent in researching, writing, publishing and marketing her memoir and making the transition from being a lawyer to a writer and public speaker. (Also see: "How I Got Published in South Africa) (2000)
- "A Seder in Shanghai" - Fuentes participates in a seder in a most unlikely city, Shanghai, China. This piece appeared previously in JoyZine and on Harry Leichter's website. (1999)
- "HUD Goes to the Moscow Trade Show" - This article was originally published in Sparks 28. March - April, 1999. (1999)
- Breast Cancer and Ruptured/Leaking Breast Implants - The story of Fuentes' experience with breast cancer. (1998)
- "Three United States Feminists: A Personal Tribute" - This article is about Fuentes' most memorable encounters with Alice Paul, the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, and Catherine East (1998).
- "Representing Women," a 17-page article, originally published in Frontiers, A Journal of Women Studies (Vol. 18, No.3, Nov. 3, 1997), by the Washington State University Press, was Sonia’s first published article about women’s rights. You can read it here. (Scroll down past the first page to access the article.)
- "House of History" (written in 1996) -- A history of the headquarters of the National Woman's Party (NWP). The house, most recently known as the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument and previously known as the Sewall-Belmont House, was for many years the headquarters of the National Woman's Party. However, at the end of 2020, NWP ended its existence and transferred its functions to the Alice Paul Institute in New Jersey.
- "Magnolias" - A Washington, DC, love story. (1996)
- "Family Past Unfolds Like Detective Story" - Research Leads to Ship's Records, a Movie and Snapshots. (1995)
- “Impressions: The Status of Women in Southeast Asia,” published in the Common Law Lawyer (no longer in existence), Sept.-Oct. 1978. (To enlarge the print on machines using Windows, hold down the control button of your computer while moving the wheel of your mouse. If viewing through Adobe Acrobat, enlarge the text with the plus button, or use the percentage dropdown list.)
- In March 1970, an article called “Job Discrimination and the Black Woman” written by Sonia under her maiden name was published in the NAACP’s Crisis magazine. In June 1970, Pauli Murray introduced that article into the record of the House Special Subcommittee of the Education Committee chaired by Rep. Edith Green.
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Sonia Pressman Fuentes
A Seder in Shanghai
In 1990, after a routine mammogram, I was given the shattering news that I had breast cancer. I reached out blindly for help and one of the organizations I called was the American Cancer Society in Washington, D.C. There, as fate would have it, the woman who answered my call was a social worker named Wilma Scheuren. She was a person whose life was devoted to helping cancer patients. Her compassion saw me through the ordeal. As a result, after my mastectomy and chemotherapy, I remained interested in breast cancer and joined the American Cancer Society. As a feminist, it was only natural that I be involved in fighting a disease that affected primarily women. A couple of years later, I was elected to the Board of the D.C. chapter.
In 1992, I learned through my feminist activities that the Chinese Medical Association was promoting a two-week trip to China in early 1993 by individuals concerned with women's health. It was to be the First International Conference on Women's Health, with stops in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, and Xian. The American Cancer Society agreed to let me go as its representative. I went to learn about the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and other cancers in China. The group consisted of about one hundred fifty men and women from around the world. In addition to those from the United States and China, the roster included participants from places like England, Ecuador, Nigeria, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Tanzania, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Panama, Singapore, and New Guinea. I was one of two Jewish lawyers in the group; most of the other participants had significant backgrounds in the health fields, as doctors, midwives, nurses, professors, and other health professionals.
Toward the end of March in 1993, shortly before my scheduled departure, I realized I'd be in China over Pesekh. On one of my calls to the organizer of the Conference in the United States, the Foundation for International Cooperation & Development, I mentioned casually my regret at missing a seder while we were away. "Not to worry," the staffer said. "We're planning to have a seder there." I couldn't understand how we could have a seder in China. How would people find the ingredients for a seder there? "Everyone will bring something from the United States," she said and assured me it would come to pass. She asked me to bring cinnamon and walnuts for the kharoset.
In early April, when we arrived in Shanghai, there was much discussion as to where to hold the seder. The Chinese Medical Association kindly offered us one of the offices in their headquarters building and it became the site.
Shortly before the seder, a number of the Jewish members of the group told me they would not be attending. They had more interesting things to do in Shanghai. On the other hand, a number of Christians asked me if they could possibly attend; it would mean so much to them, they said, to be able to participate in a seder. We told them all would be welcome. And so on the night of April 5, 1993, nineteen members of the group came together for a seder in Shanghai in the offices of the Chinese Medical Association. There were ten Jewish women, one Jewish man, five Catholic women (including a Franciscan nun), two Chinese men (one of whom was the head of the Chinese Medical Association) and one Chinese woman.
Somehow, we had the necessary ingredients. That night, we celebrated the exodus of the Jews from Egypt at a candlelight dinner in Shanghai. We had a seder plate with kharoset, a roasted bone, a roasted egg in salt water, horseradish, and parsley. We drank Pesekhdike wine and ate matzos with gefilte fish. Our Chinese hosts brought baked chicken, cabbage, and rice. We did not have the heart to tell them that among Ashkenazi Jews rice was not appropriate for Passover.
We took turns reading from the Haggadah around the table in English and Hebrew, and we sang Hebrew and Yiddish songs. When the head of the Chinese Medical Association proudly read from the Haggadah, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. While I'm far from an expert on Jewish traditions, among the blind, the one-eyed woman is queen. So, I gave a brief explanation of the meaning of the holiday, the passages we read, and the songs we sang.
None of us who were there will ever forget it.
After the service, as we left the building, I turned around and took one last look at the building where I had participated in such a meaningful service. To my amazement, I saw a Mogen Doved on the building. "What is that?" I inquired of a member of the group who lived in Shanghai.
"That's the Star of David," she said. "This building used to be a synagogue."
When I returned home, I corresponded with the nun who had been on our trip, Sister and Doctor Miriam Devlin, Medical Director of the Bridgewell Corporation in Bucksport, Maine. She had written an account of the trip for a religious newspaper.
Here is what she wrote:
“As we entered into the Holy Week preparations, several of the women with us who were Jewish, began talking about celebrating the Passover Meal . . . . Several had planned to have a very private celebration in their rooms. But it was discovered some of the Jewish women on the organizing committee had actually planned to have a common Seder Meal. They had brought the Haggadot (Prayer Books), matzo, kosher wine, bitter herbs and all. They were even willing to have non-Jews attend, and so several of us Gentiles signed up, including three Chinese people. The first thing was to find a place. That was provided by the people from the Chinese Medical Association, who gave us the use of an upper room on the fourth floor of their building. We met there after sundown--about ten Jewish women and one Jewish man, five Gentile women (all of whom turned out to be Catholic), two Chinese men and one Chinese woman! The Jewish women were from all different backgrounds: Ashkenazic and Sephardic, American, Israeli and Algerian. In a wonderful atmosphere of cooperation, they set about making the haroseth and preparing the table. There being no lamb, we settled for chicken, vegetables and rice! In some of the traditions, even rice is not allowed. However, at this time, a lot of concessions had to be made. We shared the Passover meal under the leadership of Dr. Leah Dickstein [president of the American Medical Women's Association and a professor at the University of Louisville in Kentucky] of wine, bitter herbs, matzo and haroseth. We sang the hymns of liberation, and read the story of Exodus together. We blessed each other with Shalom and to next year in Jerusalem.
“Much to our surprise, we found out later that the building in which we were was thought to have been a former synagogue! With that, we went out into the night, filled with the spirit of liberation and joy and a new sense of ecumenism. Next year . . . !”
©1997 Sonia Pressman Fuentes
This story is an excerpt from her memoir, "Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You," by Sonia Pressman Fuentes. Ms. Fuentes was a founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and other nationwide women's rights organizations in the mid-1960s and early 1970s and was the first woman attorney in the General Counsel's Office at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Ms. Fuentes, who retired from Federal government service in 1993, lives in Potomac, Maryland, winters in Sarasota, Florida, and devotes her time to writing, public speaking, and doing readings from her memoir.