On May 3, I published my latest book called “101 Inspiring Stories.” A book of inspirational stories is useful for a variety of reasons. Some speak to the leadership that has made a difference in their own life and in the lives of others. Other stories are about how a person changed for the better or took on a commitment to achieve a difficult task and succeeded. All of them are amazing stories.
Here are a number of the short stories that are in the book. They were given at a luncheon by Ruth and David Goldstein.
Allen: I began with my own story. I was 16 years old in Brooklyn when it was quite cold in December. My friend, Bernie Sandagorsky, asked me to go fishing with him on one of the many party boats at Sheepshead Bay. I had gone fishing many times during the summer with my father, so I knew how to fish and enjoyed it, but I had never gone fishing in the middle of the winter. I approached my father to gain his permission, and when he heard what I wanted to do, he told me that it was not a good idea. Still, I persisted and argued that it was not expensive, it was safe, and I was going with a friend my age that he knew. My father then said, “Look, I will let you go to teach you a lesson you will not forget. You will be miserable on the boat. The water will be rough, the fishing line will be freezing, you will get seasick, you will not catch any fish, and you will find yourself in the hold of the ship nauseous most of the time, surrounded by old men playing cards and smoking cigars. Do you still want to go?” When I said, “Yes,” my father agreed. Everything that my father told me would happen actually did happen. I got seasick, ended up in the hold of the ship, caught no fish and had a totally miserable time. That event taught me to listen to people who are more experienced and know what they are talking about. It was a lesson that taught me to listen and follow people who have expertise, and during my career I worked hard to become a good listener.
Barbara Fisher: Barbara told a story about the time she was very young, perhaps 9 years old, and went swimming in the ocean. She was alone in the water, and while a decent swimmer for her age, she got caught in a whirlpool that prevented her from getting back to the shore. She struggled and struggled to get away from the swirling water, but it wasn’t easy. Barbara started praying to G-d to save her, and she said she kept those prayers going at the same time that she tried to remove herself away from the whirlpool. Finally, with great effort, she managed to get away from the swirling water and reached the shore. At that point, Barbara said, “This is the first time I believed in prayer and in G-d, and I have been praying to Him ever since.”
Robin Saul: Robin shared a story about her grandfather and her father that has inspired her all of her life. Her grandfather came to the U.S. and established a store in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The store did extremely well, and eventually, her father joined in running the store. During those years when Robin was growing up, she saw her grandfather provide food and money to poor people in the neighborhood, even though her grandfather was not a rich man. Her grandfather could not say no to people in need, and constantly helped them whenever they asked for help, and even when they didn’t ask, but it was clear that they needed help. Eventually, her family moved to Florida, and her father took control of the store there, but the practice that her grandfather had of helping poor people continued with her father. She saw that time and again her father would provide food or money to people in need, and that practice has taught her to do the same for others.
These stories are examples of how fathers had a positive impact on their children, which indicates how important parents are in teaching their children how to act. And for the other story, it is clear that in times of trouble we turn to G-d for help, and having found that some of our troubles can be overcome we realize that we must speak to G-d regularly in good times and in bad times. G-d is our Father, too.