Rabbi Fishel's Blog - Chabad of Naples
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I want to be like you when I grow up

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Dear Friends,

Every Shabbat is special, and this week our Shabbat kiddush is even more special as we celebrate the 99th birthday of our beloved Ruth Anderson. Ruth is really a special person, one about whom many people say, “I want to be like you when I grow up” - and not just because she has spent 99 years on this earth - so far. What a wonderful person to emulate: she is always positive and happy, extremely thoughtful and caring.

I first met Ruth, 13 years ago when we just moved to Naples. We began a beautiful friendship and relationship. At a Shabbat dinner together I asked what's her secret of success and she said that every night before she goes to sleep she writes an e-mail to G-d saying how thankful she is for life and thanking him for all the blessings.

These are life's lessons that we like to share and invite everyone to come celebrate -- we look forward to celebrating many more simchas like this.

I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of our entire Chabad Naples Jewish Community, to wish Ruth a very happy birthday. May your birthday be filled with abundant blessing and cheer, and may you merit to celebrate many, many, many more birthdays – in good health and in good spirits – until 120 and beyond.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

 

The treasured memories

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“There’s only one thing more precious than our time, and that’s who we spend it on.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. How valuable time is. How scarce it often seems. And how best to treasure the small chunks of it we are given.
Things get a little quieter for us for two weeks in the summer during the (very rare!) break between Summer of the Arts and the start of Preschool of the Arts 2017-2018 and I get to spend more time with my wife and children. We travelled to NY to visit Ettie's parents, and to my hometown of Detroit to see my parents. One of the highlights was celebrating the birthday of Ettie's Bubby. May she live and be well.
The one thing that struck me over the past two weeks, is the importance of prioritizing quality time with my family. We want to give our children everything. We want to send them to the best schools, provide for them, and set them up for success in their lives.
But maybe there’s something more important than all of those things. Something that will last with our children well beyond their schooling and early careers. Something that will provide them with far greater security than any endowments.
Simply spending quality time with them.
After everything has passed, and all your children’s needs are taken care of, there’s only one thing that will really stick with them. The treasured memories of their time spent with you, your spouse and their siblings.
 Thank God, I’ve shared some very special moments with my family over the past two weeks. I hope you’ve managed to do the same.
On a more local note: Although Ettie and I are out of town, services will continue as normal led by Rabbi Levi. As well, this week we commemorate the tragic day of Tisha B’av, the day both the first and second Holy Temple was destroyed. Tisha B’av services will take place at Chabad on Monday night & Tuesday. Tisha B’av is a day to think about Jerusalem and our connection to the Holy Land. “if forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.” Take a few moments on Tuesday to think about your connection to Israel, to Jerusalem and to the Jewish people.
 

Building schmilding

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Dear Friends

I often think back to 2011, following a year of negotiations we were considering moving from a 2,000 square foot storefront to what seemed like an immense building. Even some of our closest & dearest friends and supporters worried that it just would not work...We’d be drowning in space! 

Today, with all of the bustling daily activity and our beautifully-attended Shabbat services (we will welcome a guest speaker this weekend), the full-house of happy campers all week, the grand performance yesterday, the award winning preschool, and more —  it’s amazing how we are bursting at the seams!

We take nothing for granted and thank G-d for how everything took root and unfolded. 

This updated (2017) camp picture reminds me of two words my father shared with me back in 2011: Building schmilding! Energized and excited, I could not wait to share the joy with my father. Excitedly I called to tell him, “We bought the building”, waiting to hear his “Mazel tov”. I am sure he said that, but what I heard and distinctly remember to this day, were his words: “Building schmilding”.  

These words remain the guiding light of our journey, the focus that we should never lose sight of our primary goal that is the impact we will have on the people and the children's lives, and the family we will now be able to create. It's not about the structure, it's the life that is celebrated within it.

Without a doubt I can reassure him that we listened. The building is now much too small and yet we manage to squeeze so much inside it: When there is room in the heart, there is room in the home. When there is love, the walls expand for the “Building schmilding" to accommodate what is needed.

Wishing you a beautiful Shabbat,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

Be Generous: No Time Off for Giving Blessings.

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Be Generous: No Time Off for Giving Blessings.

The last letter Barney received from his father...

Just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean we should take time off from living well. What do I mean by that? Don’t neglect the basics.

In her bestselling book ‘My Grandfather’s Blessings’, Rachel Naomi Remen writes about visiting her grandfather every Friday afternoon. He lit candles, and said a quiet prayer. After talking to G-d, he rested his hands on top of her head and uttered a blessing, thanking G-d for making him her grandfather.

“These few moments were the only time in my week when I felt completely safe and at rest.”

Her family of professionals always struggled to be more, but her grandfather didn't care about such things. For him, she was already enough. He just thanked G-d that he had her as his granddaughter.

The memories were so vivid one might think this extended over a long period of time. Yet surprisingly her grandfather had died when she was only seven years old.

Years later when her mother was very old and unexpectedly started lighting shabbos candles, she told her mother about her grandfather’s blessing and how much it meant to her. Her mother smiled at her sadly and said, “I have blessed you every day of your life, Rachel. I just never had the wisdom to do it out loud.”

Are we making the same mistake? When was the last time, we told each of our children: “I am so thankful to G-d to have YOU as my child, I am so grateful to be your mom, or your dad”?

That is what Shabbat is for. A sacred time when we don’t look at what we lack, but rather how thankful we are for what we have, and when we recall the truth that the greatness of man is not in what he or she owns, but in who he or she is.

Recently, a few minutes before we started our Shabbat celebration, our dear Barney Edelkind offered to show me something special. Almost crying but visibly proud, he showed me the last letter his father wrote to him in 1945 while he was in the Navy. It said he wanted him to know, “My dear and loving Son, as a father I want to give you this blessing and I hope it stays with you forever.”

There was a paper from the prayer book, the Aaronic priestly blessings, “May G-d bless you and may he protect you." It was a letter accompanied by tears of joy and love from a father to a son, and Barney felt the love until this moment. He said while getting goosebumps, this was the greatest gift his father gave him. He cherished this blessing, just feeling special, secure, safe and loved.

One of the most memorable moments of my childhood occurred each year, moments before Yom Kippur began. As the sun set over the horizon and we all rushed off to shul, my father dressed in his Kittel and Tallis, looked me in the eyes, placed his hands on my head and in a tear-choked voice showered me with blessings. I could not hear his words, but I saw his tears, felt his tremor and sensed his love. I felt my father was blessing me with everything I needed: love, happiness, and success, the same blessings Jewish parents have been giving their children for the past 3300 years. Known as Birchat Kohanim, the priestly blessings are recorded in the book of Numbers, the blessings the Kohanim used to bless our people for millennia.

“Yevarechecha Hashem Veyishmerecha" - May G-d bless you and protect you‘ "Yaer Hashem Panav Eilecha Vichunekah “ - May G-d shine His countenance upon you and give you grace. ‘Yisa Hashem ponov eilecha veyosem lecha sholom" - May G-d lift you up you and grant you peace.

I remember those few minutes when I felt completely safe and at rest. I think of this now as we are in middle of the summer months. Bless your child, your spouse, tell them how special they are. Tell them how you thank G-d every day for having them in your life. This is the greatest blessing we can give and it extends past family, as Ettie Zaklos and I thank G-d for being part of this community.

 

Alex's precious life

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This week's Shabbat is dedicated in loving memory of Alex Glassman of blessed memory by his dear wife Carol. Alex was a giant of a man not only in terms of his physical stature but in terms of his character and his spirituality. He was a warm, friendly, and generous man with a big smile and an incredible laugh :) I remember this...his distinct laugh....he also had this special Neshamah and huge heart and was a person who always put his action where his heart and soul were.

Alex would often express regret over the fact that he grew up in a small town in Quebec where there was no Jewish community life to speak about and he was never able to receive bar mitzvah training.

Consider how many children in this community have received their Jewish education and how many bar mitzvahs have taken place and will take place in the future. Think about how many children are enjoying the warmth and the love in this beautiful Alex and Carol Glassman Chabad Naples Community Center, and to whose honor this Center is dedicated. It is all a tribute to Alex's legacy and a result of his wife Carol's actions to make it a reality. So I think it's safe to say that Alex is having his symbolic bar mitzvah in this very shul/synagogue many many times over. 

On a personal note, this week's Torah portion was actually my reading on the occasion of my bar mitzvah years ago...time flies! As this was my bar mitzvah Torah reading I genuinely feel that I am reading it for Alex - his bar mitzvah Torah reading and he is celebrating his bar mitzvah this week. Taking it a step further, and considering that almost to this day several years ago Ettie and I first moved to this part of the world to establish the Chabad Center of Naples, my heart swells thinking of how are dedicating this Shabbos to Alex's precious life and soul and what a tribute it is to have this bar mitzvah and Shabbat in his honor. 

This Torah portion suits Alex and Carol: this Torah reading teaches us that action is most important. Even the statement from Tehilim Psalms.... taste and you will see that G-d is good ... it's only when you taste it that you will truly know it. Certain things or realities in life you can't capture in words alone — like promises, actions speak louder than words — — they have to be experienced or acted upon in order to be appreciated. 

The Rebbe would say many times the way you become a kind person is by DOING kind things; it's when you DO great things that you become a great person. Beautiful words are important but not nearly as important as good and noble actions and there's a time and place for everything. There's a time for contemplation analysis, then there's a time for action and experience and knowing which belongs where is a big part of the secret of life.

When Ettie and I arrived here in Naples almost 14 years ago we came with literally nothing but the shirts on our backs and a desire and a will to make a difference in this community. No one rolled out the red carpet nor did we have the steps mapped out for us. 

But with G-d's help, by plunging forward we were able to bring the community together, enabling us to add program after program with participants along with supporters and in time we were able to acquire this magnificent center and build an award-winning preschool. 

Beautiful actions brought to fruition this place that touches hundreds of lives every step of the way.

It is with this same action that Alex and Carol lived their lives. It was this action first that motivated her when she decided to dedicate the center by accelerating the gift that she and Alex had discussed,giving it to something near and dear to their hearts. She saw how much the Chabad community needed it and took the next step, the big plunge forward and took the action in a swift and timely manner. Sitting in this very center dedicated in their names is an inspiring tribute to her beloved husband Alex — it's a living legacy of firmly establishing and continuing the love, teaching, sharing and caring that is doing immeasurable good today and will continue in perpetuity. 

This is the spirit that G-d encourages, when we face challenges not to look for excuses or rationalizations just plunge forward and do what we must do for the betterment of the quality of our own minds and those around us because then we open the channel for G-d's amazing blessings. I am certain that on this special Shabbas as we come together in loving memory of our beloved Alex, his neshama is deriving so much joy and pleasure from all that is here in both of their names as the Alex and Carol Glassman Chabad of Naples. As we gather together in the sanctuary inthe center that bears his name to mark his anniversary of passing, his special Yahrzeit, I know that his neshama is having an ascension in the heavens above and he's elevating all of our lives in the process and may his memory be an eternal blessing.  

The messages in these videos are timeless - as sincere an meaningful today as when they were uttered. 

 

Time: Our Precious Resource

Time:  Our Precious Resource 

Some years ago, a watch called Tikker came on the market. It was designed to show us how short our lives can be and by estimating our life expectancy, emphasize how we should make the most of each second as we watch them tick away.

Depending on how you live it, life can be both ephemeral and lengthy.

Recently my family and I attended the fantastic Celebrate Israel Day and while spending time wandering among the exhibits with my kids, we met a woman from our community we had not seen for a while. It was clear that she didn’t recognize my children and as I introduced them by name, she marveled at their grownup appearance. Partly to herself and partly to me, she commented how “time just keeps marching on”.

That’s something to which we can all relate: the ongoing passing of time. Time takes no breaks; it takes no pauses or rests. It just keeps marching on. A day becomes a week then becomes a month then becomes a year, and, before we know it, we find ourselves looking back at an entire lifetime that has passed, wondering where exactly it went.

Jewish practice has its way of dealing with the inevitable passing of time. It’s a curious exercise we do Between Passover and the holiday of Shavuot - we count time. Every evening we make a blessing and proclaim,” Today is the first day”, “Today is the second day,” until 49 days have passed and Shavuot arrives. What’s the purpose of this exercise? Are we counting just for the fun of it?

In the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot we know there will be exactly 49 days. There were only 49 days last year — there have only been 49 days for the last thousand years, and I’ll be willing to bet that there will only be 49 days this year as well. Yet, year after year, we count those same 49 days. It’s strange, right?

The answer lies in the etymology of the Hebrew word for counting—Sephirah. The word Sephirah has another meaning aside for counting—it means “to shine”. In fact, the English word sapphire is Semitic in origin, and is related to the Hebrew word Sephirah.
What does this all mean?

We cannot stop time. We cannot cause it to pause nor slow down its passage. What we can do, though, is illuminate the time we were given- we can make our time shine. How do we achieve that? By counting time. By being mindful of the time that constantly passes, and the infinite new opportunities every second brings. The more we acknowledge the immense gift behind every passing moment, the better we can unpack the unbounded potential it contains.

In the words of Maria Edgeworth, a famous English writer, “If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.”

A lifetime is a collection of years, a year a collection of days, a day a collection of minutes, and a minute a collection of seconds. When we treasure the value of a moment, and we see to it that it is utilized effectively, we create a minute, then a day, then a year, then a lifetime of mindful being and purposeful living.

There is a lot to be gained from counting time. The short moments our lives grant us are too precious to spend on idle gossip and useless hate. Life is too short to wait for the perfect mood, or to keep pushing things off until the perfect time.

Let us work together to put this into practice: “Today is one day”— all that exists is the present moment. We have the power to make sure it will shine. Let’s do it!

 

 

The debt we owe to those who fight

Dear Friends,

Memorial Day - to some it’s a long holiday weekend, a time to enjoy spending some extra family hours packed with sales, BBQs and events, almost a formal prelude to summer. But let’s not forget the traditional “memorial” part, designated to honor the men and women who serve in a branch of the armed military as well as those who died in its service. There’s an extra show of flags on homes and in the medians of some nearby cities, as local veterans hold ceremonies to remember those who died serving their country and to honor those who still put their lives on the line daily, so that we and others may enjoy the freedom we hold so dear.
Take at least a small part of the day to remember some of the basic ideals on which our country was founded, and the debt we owe to those who fight for them on our behalf.
With love and blessings
Rabbi Fishel Zaklos 

I felt the love, the warmth and the miracle!

 

Another busy week at Chabad of Naples as we celebrate the successes of our Preschool and our Hebrew School, with graduation ceremonies for both.

It’s that time of year again and as we gear up for yet another fantastic summer of camp, with only two weeks left to prepare and a few spots left to fill, now is the time either to sign up your camper or to click here for the scholarship fund, to give the gift of a summer of unbelievable fun to a child who will appreciate it. Do it today!

Shavuot, May 31: We look forward to seeing all of you at our Grand Shavuot Ice Cream Party and dairy buffet - No charge, but RSVP is required if you wish to attend:  office@chabadnaples.com

Yom Yerushalayim begins at sundown on Tuesday, May 23. Just 50 years ago those words “The kotel is in our hands" reverberated around the world, but just days before powerful armies wanted to wipe it away. At that time believers and non-believers all understood the miracle, and they all were moved to tears  by the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City in June 1967. 
As the mayor of Jerusalem said: 50 years ago Jerusalem was dysfunctional to say the least, while today in the ancient city where kings and prophets walked, it has been transformed to a modern international cosmopolitan center.  It is one of the fastest growing high tech hubs with thriving innovative companies minutes from biblical sites and the greatest archaeological treasures. It’s the eternal home of the Jewish people and a miracle of diversity.

I just returned from an amazing albeit short trip to Israel with a Chabad Naples group. There are many stories which I hope to share in the coming weeks, but for now I just want to share how every time I go I feel my Neshama is alive. When we spent some time in Jerusalem and then in Tzfat and Meron, I truly felt the love, the warmth, the miracle and the diversity of observing the modern and the ancient thriving as one. Words fail me as I try to describe going the second time to pray at the wall, the night before we left. It was as if I couldn't leave for there was something drawing me to that powerful, awesome, and brilliant place. Although it was 1 in the morning it was like midday with so many people learning and  praying.  I was davening for my family and the Chabad Naples family and felt the prayers were going straight up as the divine presence is there. But it dosen't stop there as Jerusalem isn't just a geographical location,  it's our story, it's our history and destiny.  It represents peace, tranquility, reverence, awe, and respect, and our mission is to bring this Jerusalem into our own lives to connect with the past yet build a bridge of hope for the future. We never lost hope and have always yearned deeply for a better and brighter future.

An estimated 800,000 Jews came to pray, dance and celebrate at  the grave of Rabbi Shimon in Meron, and we were there too, to share this legacy of love and beauty.  Can you just imagine seeing that many people uniting in such an absolutely powerful way? Each had his reason for coming from every corner of the world for this event  and it may be that the reason is as simple as our wish to pass the tradition along, as it's our story: we never forget and we don't lose hope. Rashbi’s entire life centered around one theme: Revealing the inner layer behind every element of our world. He taught humanity to focus on what unites us, not what divides us. He taught us to live for purpose, not just for pleasure. And he revealed how every individual has an infinite contribution to make to this world. Wishing everyone a peaceful and blessed Shabbat! 

Our center was filled with joy

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Dear Friends,

Last night, 150 Naples Chabad Partners once more answered the call: this time to come cruisin’, schmoozin’ (and even a little boozin’) as they enjoyed the delightful feast catered especially by Shaikes.

Rufino Hernandez, of the Garden District thank enhancied our event by generously donating stunning flower arrangements. 

This was Chabad’s way of thanking partners for their generous past support for Naples Chabad and the Preschool of the Arts. On such a high-energy evening, out of sight is definitely not out of mind. 

The event also gave everyone the opportunity to raise a glass in a huge L’chaim to those who were able to be present in spirit only - emphasizing the importance of each and every partner. 

Guests went home with a giant beach towel to assure them they are “making waves as partners”, and sunglasses to peer at our dazzling bright future. 

Mere words are not sufficient to convey our sincere gratitude to the very special group of our partners. Our pictures say a thousand words -- so we'll let them do the talking!

We love you all and look forward eagerly to next year with our partners.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos
Arthur Seigel, M.D.

 

We all need to sing with our families.

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We all need to sing with our families.

This past Monday my family and I undertook a most moving and powerful event. Just being together with my parents and my siblings to honor my brother Yossi’s 20th yahrzeit was significant enough, but our shared experience was beyond anything I ever could have anticipated.

We first went to his gravesite at the Montefiore Cemetery. We recited psalms and sang some of the songs that Yossi loved singing at home at our Shabbat table. While we were all lost in the music, we found ourselves reliving and experiencing Yossi again. We were surrounded and overcome by so much power. There was not a dry eye present.

The singing continued and no one made a move to leave. At that moment I realized the strength and power of singing as a tool to bring us together, back to childhood with that innocence and purity around the Shabbat table.

While it was so difficult to see all my siblings and parents crying, there was still a sense of peace knowing Yossi was schepping nachas and singing with us while he was basking and singing with the heavenly angels.

You know, oftentimes, when I think about how much I miss Yossi. I think about how I wish Yossi could have met my wife, Ettie, my children, his nephews and nieces, it becomes extremely difficult to hold back my tears. But I know that tears alone won’t cut it. We have to tell Yossi’s stories to each other and to our children. And we have to aspire to the qualities he radiated so purely and so beautifully

With my arms around my son Mendel, I took comfort from the music knowing the beauty of the moment would be absorbed by him and carried forth to the next generation.

Next on our schedule was a family visit to Sloan Kettering to say thank you to the doctor who helped Yossi during his two years there. He was so grateful to see us and while it has been a long time, he said he will never forget Yossi — his selflessness, kindness and what a gem he was at such a young age. When he was in remission Yossi presented him with a doctor’s prayer and the doctor said that at the beginning of every day he reads the letter before he begins working.

Then we went to Ronald McDonald House and as were giving “Yossi’s treats” to the children, we met a mother and her precious daughter who has the same form of cancer, Ewing Sarcoma, which is very rare. We talked for a long time and found it difficult to leave Alexa, this amazing 12-year old, for whom we will continue to pray.

After this highly emotional day we met for a special gathering in Yossi’s honor with many speeches from friends and family, and then we farbrenged and met informally saying l’chaim until the wee hours of the morning.

As I walked away from all of these events, I realized the impact my brother Yossi left and how 20 years later his spirit is not just strong but even stronger. Just imagine, although he lived only a short life, how many lives he touched, the impact he made and how every moment counted as if instinctively he knew his time was limited. The music of his abbreviated life unites us, as we recall all the positive ways in which he influenced our lives and continues to do so.

 

Our doors never close!

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much to all for taking the time to send special feedback via calls, e-mails, and Facebook replies for the words I shared about my brother. It really meant so much to me and to my family. May we be there for each others' Simchas, G-d willing. 

It's always amazing how Chabad Naples doesn’t slows down when traffic becomes lighter and the cars start rolling north  after Passover. At Chabad Naples the season is a warm up for our busy summer.   

It's VERY long:) If you need a coffee in the middle, please don't hesitate to grab one. 

We hope you had an incredible holiday and are ready to celebrate with us:  coming up May 4th is our special opportunity say thank you to our dear and precious Chabad and Preschool of the Arts partners, for your ongoing support and partnership in all that we do here at the world famous Chabad Naples. We realize that many of you are  out of town as it is the end of the season, but this is one of our small ways to say thank you in person and for us to genuinely say thank you with an intimate Heimishe evening with great food, cocktails, a few (VERY short) speeches. We look forward to seeing all of you — and if you have already flown north, please know that you are in our minds and hearts. 

If you have not yet renewed or you are just planning your partner project participation, please visit our website or call- it means a lot to the precious children and the community, that we may continue our work. 

In addition to joining the Partnership Project, you may want to consider planned giving. We started this special way of being able to ensure and continue the valuable and meaningful investment in continuity for generations to come. To learn more about the Planned Giving Society please visit our website or arrange a meeting with Rabbi Fishel. 

We have much to be thankful for and in the coming days will be showing our appreciation in different ways:   

May 2 is Teacher Appreciation Day, a special time to recognize and thank those who give their hearts and souls every day to the children and who make Preschool of the Arts so unique. 

We are also looking forward to two graduations:   

Hebrew School Graduation – our 13th year!  It is so exciting to see how children who began not reading Hebrew walk away being confident masters. 

May 26th is Pre-K Graduation.  It's amazing how this is our 6th year of preschool and as the children graduate and move on, the schools that they attend afterwards say how they are so advanced. 

If you would like to join us at this event, send us an e-mail we will be happy to reserve a spot for you. 

On June 5th the spectacular Summer of the Arts and Camp Gan begins!  We are almost full but now is the time to register for the few remaining paces for a unique summer.  Check out the calendars for every day full of fun at www.naplessummerofthearts.com

Here is a wonderful opportunity to help a chid have a great summer plus contribute to the scholarship fund for one session or the whole summer or to the general fund. 

NEW!!!  You may have heard, we are about to open a Toddler Class!   This is huge — we are offering a full five-day program for our new 12-18 month old children next year.  It is our goal that these young toddlers adjust smoothly to the school environment and feel safe and comfortable in their preschool setting.  To achieve this at their developmental age, it is crucial to have the continuity of coming every day. Children thrive on routine, and the regularity of daily attendance sets them up for success.  In addition, we are keeping the size of the class small, so that the teachers can give the children a lot of love and attention without bouncing between the 2-day, 3-day and 5-day roster of children. This is key for us to create a solid, stable, loving environment where these young children form a real bond with their teachers.

We will start construction and renovation for this project soon, without disturbing the current programs BUT we do need help.  If you are interested in assisting with this additional classroom or wish to dedicate it in honor of someone, please reach out to Ettie or Rabbi Fishel.

All of this, while we still continue with our ongoing programs and doing  Mitzvot in the community.

And don’t forget — Preschool of the Arts and Hebrew School registration are in full swing. 

Wishing you all a safe and beautiful Shabbat,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

 

My mother shared two statements with me

 

Fishey and torah.jpgOn Sunday, December 14, 2008 close to 500 community members gathered to complete the writing after a yearlong commissioning of a Torah that started at the Ritz Beach House in January 2008.

My mother shared two statements with me with regard to this Torah. They made a huge impact and I want to share them with you. One was at the completion of the Torah in 2008 and the other when she visited here in January 2016.

When we completed the Torah, my mother said, “Fishel, you know… the pain was just seething and piercing. Knowing that his legacy continues in this Torah and this community, I now feel for the first time a little comfort."

I know it brought tremendous comfort to her.

Her second statement, more recently, she said, “When I pray in the Shul with you at the Alex and Carol Glassman Chabad Center and you hold the Torah saying Sh’ma, I see two brothers embracing each other.”

THAT to me is huge. It brought and brings so much comfort and I want to share that with others who are feeling pain and loss and might find by perhaps doing something meaningful or powerful it may bring just a little comfort.

This Torah is a living testament, to those souls both past and present, who put their lives on the line to help others and ensure liberty, democracy and freedom for all.

So by being in Naples as it is the Naples community Torah, and all who joined and will join, you have made our family your family.

Today, my brother Yossi is your brother Yossi.

In prayer let us hold hands and together form a large circle of life.

Let our circle of love and common purpose extend far beyond the borders of this Chabad of Naples and reach out to all of our brothers and sisters, wherever they may be.

My brother Yossi, courageous, fearless and the sweetest soul!

 

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My brother Yossi, courageous, fearless and the sweetest soul!

Tonight on the seventh day of Passover, is my brother Yossi’s anniversary of passing. In 1997 on the 7th day of Pesach, this precious soul whom I loved with every fiber of my being was taken back to a special place in heaven.

Yossi was taken from us too soon. His life was too short and I miss him terribly.

Twenty years sounds like a lot, but what’s amazing to me is that this young man made such a profound impact on me, with how he led his life, that he has remained very much alive with me. Yossi had a courageous and fearless nature, and at the same time, he was the sweetest soul.

For all the beautiful light my brother shone upon this world for the brief time we were blessed to have him with us, I often tell myself to imagine — just imagine if Yossi were still here! What great things he and I might have build and accomplish together! Sadly, his life was an amazing but curtailed blessing, and we try to continue on his behalf, inspired by and using his positive spirit and joy for life that never waned.

Yossi exuded an inner peace and a sense of direction. He wasn’t torn by different competing ideas and values. Sometimes naturally in pursuit of success and happiness in life we sometimes overlook what's really important. I was amazed that he remained fully focused, never taking his eye off the prize: he lived to help others, caring especially for those who are often ignored.

When I saw him getting up a half hour earlier than his normal 6 am wake up time so that he could help one of his classmates get ready for an exam, or when I watched him motivate his whole school into a new project to reach out to a fellow in need, I saw the true meaning of life; I saw the true meaning of Torah.

When he got wind of a young student who couldn’t afford tuition in Yeshiva, it was he who quietly and discreetly approached members of the community to allow his friend to continue his studies, with pride and dignity intact.

He would often talk dreamily about how one day he wanted to reach out to a community to create a warm and loving place, and as he visited various Chabad centers for Shabbat or events I would hear his ideas develop. One day he wanted to build and open his Chabad center.

And it all changed.

When he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, I thought at least then he would spend time caring for himself and take a break from his selfless giving character. Not Yossi.

As I sat at his bedside in Sloan Kettering hospital for two years, I watched in amazement how doctors and nurses were inspired by this wellspring of joy and happiness. As I wheeled him through the hallways, he would ask me to slow down to share a joke with a little girl who had no hair to frame her innocent face, or just to smile to another elderly patient sitting in the ward. He asked me to wheel him into the patients' lounge so he could spend time to pray. It was just so amazing and awe inspiring to see this teenager who was going through such pain and treatments live and wake up fully to begin his day first thanking G-d and then almost on a mission to uplift and to ease the pain of others. His unshakable faith, his positive demeanor, his courageous acceptance of his situation with equanimity – without any trace of bitterness – were almost superhuman phenomena. It was transcendent. otherworldly!

Instead of wallowing in pity, he was so focused, directed, and full of purpose and meaning. It was almost as if this were his Chabad center.

I know how much life Yossi had in him. I knew his thoughts and felt his dreams, and while I cry for what has been cut short — a beautiful, sincere, caring bright soul who taught me more than he could imagine, I take comfort in knowing that Yossi still has a chance to live his dream through our center, together with my dear wife Ettie Zaklos whom he never met and our precious children. I feel to this day how Yossi is watching our community and taking pride in us, as if we are living his life for him and our magnificent achievement is giving him a chance to prove his immortality.

Knowing Yossi, I promise that wherever he is in the beautiful place in heaven, he is advocating on our behalf, praying for each one of us, for our families, and the world at large.

As I read from the Naples Community Torah tomorrow, dedicated in his loving memory, I know Yossi continues to live on.

Wherever you are in your life, whatever your situation, please know that as I recite from his loving Torah and embrace Yossi with love, I embrace all of you.

If you can, please do some mitzvah — a good deed in his honor.

As we recite yizkor on Tuesday, let's remember the precious moments of our loved ones and know that we can to keep their Neshamot alive and live fully.

 

Be prepared to occasionally let go

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Dear Friends,

This week we welcomed the new Hebrew Month of Miracles, Nissan. One of the greatest of these was the miracle of parting the sea as the Jews left Egypt. Just picture the Jews sandwiched between the endless menacing sea and the advancing Egyptian army. What can be done?  Moses realized that the only way they could save themselves would be to go into the water. He commanded everyone to follow him but they all resisted, frightened and thinking he had lost his mind. Then one of them, Nachshon, stepped up and went into the waves. First his legs disappeared, and then his chest and everyone feared he was drowning. Just as the waters hit his nose, the sea divided!

Sometimes we just have to take that extra step forward, without any evidence or reassurance that things will work out. I’m not suggesting that we blindly and thoughtlessly forge ahead into dangerous uncharted territory, but we have to be prepared to occasionally let go, quit worrying so much and clear the way for greatness and even miracles to enter our lives.

It was so amazing when last week Seacrest middle school theater group came to perform for Preschool of the Arts. They had heard so much about us and some of our graduates go to their school. Just 13 years ago we were unknown, and now others reach out to the icon preschool — what a miracle! Let's continue doing and making the first move and leave the rest to G-d.

As it says in psalms, cast your worries upon G-d and he will contain it, or as the famous saying goes, “Don’t tell G-d how big your problems are, tell your problems how big G-d is.”
It’s not always easy, but it is the month of miracles so we have that extra energy.

loneliness

"Love your fellow as yourself", Rabbi Akiva says this is THE cardinal principle of the Torah!
 
Why is it the most important thing in Judaism? Because the greatest fear a person has is the fear of loneliness, of being alone, of not being cared for by anyone. There are many challenges that life can throw at someone, but the strength that comes from knowing that we are not alone in this challenge, that we have the empathy, love and tears of a friend or loved one, often gives us the ability to overcome anything. The one time we feel helpless is when we sense that noone cares and that we don't matter..
 
Loneliness may not seem as threatening as the other challenges in life, but it undermines us in a way that no other challenge does. So when we reach out to another individual and simply show them that we are "with them", we may not have directly provided them with the answer to their problems, but we have given them something more important: the strength to find the way to overcome the problem itself.
 
As Passover approaches we would be wise to think of the first revelation of G-d to Moses: in a bush full of thorns. Why a thorn bush of all places? G-d was sending Moses and the People of Israel a message: So long that you dwell in suffering and slavery, that's where I dwell as well. I am with you in your pain and suffering. That knowledge was the beginning of the redemption.
 
Have you eliminated someone's loneliness lately?

If you know of someone in need of a Pesach Seder or something else, please contact Rabbi Zaklos @ Rabbi@chabadnaples.com

Is there anything else we can help you for the holiday? please email office@chabadnaples.com

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom!
 

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

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