- Stories & Articles by Sonia
Articles and Stories by Sonia Pressman Fuentes
- 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 the following write-up by Sonia on her blog.
- In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, 2018, The Forward newspaper shared its readers' stories.
- 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. (May 1, 2015).
- On Feb. 8, 2015, Sonia's article about her life went online on the website of Encore.org, a website that features articles by people about the second half of their lives.
- "The Night My Father Ran Away from His Own Wedding," the first chapter of Sonia's memoir, and "A Visit to Piltz," her article about her 2001 trip to the shtetl [village] in Poland where her parents were born, are on the website of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened in 2014 in Warsaw. Click on "Show More" at the bottom of each screen until you come to the screen with Sonia's two stories.
- "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.
- "Eighty-five Years Old in Sarasota County, Florida," write-up submitted by Sonia on April 12, 2014, on her life as a senior woman, to Marjorie Penn Lasky, who is writing a book on senior women today and how their lives differ from those of senior women in the past.
- “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.
- 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.
- "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)
- In 2000, Sonia lectured on “How Being an Immigrant Shaped My Life” at Cornell University and thereafter gave varying versions of that talk at other venues. Articles on that subject have appeared in: 120 HIAS Stories, a book published to commemorate the 120th anniversary of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) (July 2002), Women in Judaism, a Multidisciplinary Journal (April 2006), the Sarasota-Manatee Jewish News (January 2007), the website of the Museum of Family History, and Der Bay, the newsletter of the International Association of Yiddish Clubs (Vol. XX, No. 1, Jan. 2010).
- "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). Later that year, a slightly different version of this article was published in Moondance.
- “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, is available by emailing Sonia at email@example.com and asking her to email it to you or by purchasing it at jstor.org. This was Sonia’s first published article about women’s rights.
- "House of History" - A history of the Sewall-Belmont House, one of the oldest houses on Capitol Hill, is the story of the current headquarters of the National Woman's Party. (1996)
- "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.)
Sonia Pressman Fuentes
by Sonia Pressman Fuentes
I was deliriously happy as I waited for Bill in my Washington, D.C., apartment that Sunday night in the early 1960s. I twirled about my room, checked a hairpin here, an earring there, and listened to the clock ticking in my otherwise silent room. There is nothing better than waiting for the man you love to come to you, knowing that he will, and that that night he will be making love to you.
For a moment, a frightening thought pierced my mind. I remembered the night before, after Bill had gone home, when I had picked up the Bible that lay on my bookshelf. I had opened it haphazardly--to find a prophecy. It read:
For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom,
That was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her. (Lamentations 4.6)
Would I be punished? Was it a sin to love a goy, a shaygetz? Was it a betrayal of my people?
I could not believe this was so. If there was a God, then, surely, that entity was the God of all the people and my loving a non-Jew would not be a sin. I did not believe the saying that cast the Jews as the "chosen people" with a special mission in the world. I did feel guilty about the loss of Yiddishkayt in my descendants should I marry Bill. But I would have to deal with that. Life was not perfect. "It isn't the way we would draw it," Mother used to say. And I was in love.
I thought about the night before when I had made this discovery and my decision to act on it. By that time, Bill and I had been dating for about six months. We met as office mates at the National Labor Relations Board where we were both attorneys. We had begun going out--a walk around the Jefferson Memorial, an evening at a Watergate concert, dinner at a country inn, down to Pennsylvania Avenue to see Charles de Gaulle ride triumphantly by with a beaming Dwight D. Eisenhower at his side. And I had come to love this shy, unassuming young man whose background was so different from mine.
I had been raised on the bugaboo that if I married a goy, no matter how many years the marriage lasted, there would come a day when he would call me a "dirty Jew." But this was a ridiculous canard born out of the ghetto mentality. Surely, that would never happen with Bill. I remembered the visit to his home, the small clapboard house off Massachusetts Avenue, with the pictures of Civil War veterans in the front parlor, all ancestors, all named Chapell. Bill would remind me that it was spelled with a double "l."
I looked at our reflection in the colonial mirror in the hallway and shook my head in wonder. There I was, with parents from a shtetl in Poland, alongside this tall, young American whose ancestors fought in the Civil War. What twist of fate had brought us together and made us love each other in such a wild and inexplicable way?
But early that Saturday evening, such thoughts were far from my mind. From the minute Bill walked in the door and we looked at each other, it was good. It was always good between us, good when we looked, good when we talked, and good when we touched. "There must be a God," he had said, holding me in his arms, "if we can feel this way--there must be a God."
"Yes, my darling," I had replied. "There must be a God."
That night I had decided, once and for all time, that I was in love and that I would marry Bill. I knew it would be difficult. My parents would never get over it. They were not particularly religious, but they had a strong Jewish identity. They would never accept their only daughter's marriage to a gentile. It would devastate my parents and alienate my brother. But a choice had to be made between my parents' and brother's lives and my own. And I had made it.
Now it remained for Bill to decide. That would present no problems. The problems had always been on my side; it had always been my parents, my religion, my concerns.
My reverie was interrupted by a knock at the door, and I ran to open it to let Bill in. He stood there, eyes downcast, arms full of flowers. Oh yes, the magnolias. Bill had promised to bring me some of the magnolias that grew so luxuriantly in the front yard of his home. And here they were.
I spent half an hour trying to arrange those magnolias. They were gigantic white flowers, like no flowers I had seen before. Tropical and lush, they looked out of place in my modern efficiency apartment. And they seemed to resist confinement there. I tried glasses, bowls, even my new casserole dish. I felt somewhat uncomfortable about that. Mother had always abhorred putting anything but food into food containers. Well, Mother was out of it now.
Finally, I gave up and Bill took over with the flowers. I stood by and marveled at his involvement. There he was, adjusting the water, moving the flowers around, cutting the stems, while all I could think of was the moment when he would take me in his arms, hold me, kiss me, and tell me he loved me.
Finally, the magnolias found their place, and we found ours.
Bill and I were on the couch, the couch that was always too small for his large frame. "My longshoreman," I had called him one night. "You don't look like a lawyer, my darling," I had said. "but like a great big wild longshoreman come from the docks."
At that, he had removed his shirt, and I had loved him, wildly and furiously, as one must love a longshoreman. And faced him calmly and coolly in the office the next day, the memory of our love shining in my eyes.
As Bill lowered his head to kiss me that Sunday, I lifted my lips to meet his. How Aryan he looked, with that shock of straight blond hair falling over his forehead. What was I doing kissing this goyish face, this face with its high cheekbones and angular lines? This face that wasn't dark and sad and Jewish. But then Bill's lips touched mine, and I forgot all about faces.
"Bill, darling," I said. "Do you know what I used to say? I used to say,`If you open me up, it will say Jew inside.' And do you know what I say now? `If you open me up, it will say Bill inside.'"
My Will looked pained at that statement. Perhaps he was pained by the sacrifice he realized I would be making--we would both be making. From now on, each of us would be walking in an alien world, a world where neither of us would be completely comfortable. I remembered the fairy tale of the mermaid who traded her fishtail for two feet, two feet that pained her and bled when she walked, but two feet upon which she could walk beside her beloved prince. She had thought the sacrifice worthwhile, and so did I.
As I lay on the couch enfolded by Bill's arms, he began to speak. "If anyone had told me six months ago that I could love a Jew," he began, "I wouldn't have believed him." Did I hear him right? Did he say that? He went on, but all I heard, over and over in my head, was "A Jew--a Jew--a Jew--a Jew--a Jew." He called me "a Jew," not "Sonyitchka," not "darling," not "sweetheart," but "Jew." I looked at myself lying in his arms, at my hands, the pink-tinged nails peeking out through the tapered fingers. I tried to see how those hands differed from other hands. Were they monstrous? Were those crocodile scales, dark and ugly and scabrous? Had Bill fallen in love with a monster and just realized he found that love repulsive?
How odd that this should come to me finally, not from a gang of hoodlums running after me in the dark, but from the lips of the man I loved as he held me in his arms. How foolish I had been to think I could escape. Why should I escape?
Bill was still talking, but I heard little of what he had to say. It had to do with loving me and leaving me. It had to do with terrors, the terrors of the world outside. "If we could spend our lives together in this apartment, I could do it," he said, "but I don't think I can do it on the outside."
I did not want to hear any more of his words, and I did not want to look anymore at his face. Finally, the torment ended. Bill ambled to the door, muttered a few more words, looked into my eyes one last time, and walked out of my life.
I stood a moment stock still, staring at the closed door, as if, at any moment, it would open, and Bill would walk back in, sweep me up in his arms, and tell me he loved me. Everything that had just happened would be erased, a nightmare that had happened to someone else. And all would be forgotten. But the door didn't open. And, after a while, I hurled myself on the couch and sobbed hysterically to the walls around me, "Why? Why? Why?"
But the walls did not answer.
© 1996 by Sonia Pressman Fuentes. This piece was previously published in JoyZine, www.joyzine.zip.com.au and in jewishmag.com. It was subsequently published in the November 2009 issue of the e-zine, Gantseh Megillah, at http://www.pass.to/tgmegillah/nfeatures.asp?id=276. Sonia Pressman Fuentes is the author of a memoir, Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter. Information on the book and ordering it is available at www.erraticimpact.com/fuentes.