Rabbi Fishel's Blog - Chabad of Naples
« Back to Chabad - Naples

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, post Cyber Monday

Has everyone  -- or everyone’s pocket --recovered from the great sales of Thanksgiving, post Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, post Cyber Monday, and all the commotion? You don’t have to be a retail giant to know that  at this time of year the focus is on  ‘getting’. People tend to spend a lot, and a lot of it goes both to themselves and to other people, who possibly are not in need.

Well, today is Giving Tuesday, and before you sigh and shrug it off, consider this: many are asking for donations for their org., and many of these are worthwhile, dedicated community organizations devoted to helping those who need it.  There are many aspects to giving. Take a few minutes today to think about ‘giving’ - does someone need a call and would he benefit from a few encouraging words?

All around the globe people are giving back to the causes they love. While Judaism teaches that every day is the right day for charity, we at Chabad of Naples are excited to take part in this awe-inspiring movement to celebrate the giving season.


Happy #GivingTuesday friends! To many, many more!

 Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 


Why Should We Be Thankful


Why Should We Be Thankful?

Simply thinking about what we have could lead to our feeling thankful and truly uplifted when we consider family, friends, food and shelter - clean air, clean water to drink and electricity - the ability to enjoy physical activity - the recovery from illness. Just thinking about these things that we usually take for granted, or being without them for a while, could lead to a deeper appreciation and understanding of what we have when they are returned to us.  

Instead of regret for what we don’t have, we can arise each morning with joy, take a deep breath and marvel at the fresh air of freedom, and observe the many shades of green on the foliage as the sun rises to touch each piece.  We can visit a beach and hear the swish and lap of waves on the shore; we can watch the different shapes of clouds  moving across the sky and rejoice in them instead of obsessing over what we can no longer do now that we could do with ease when we were younger. We should relish and be grateful for what is still available and accessible to us.
We can open our minds and then open our hearts to all the good things with which G-d has surrounded us, instead of asking why we should be grateful. Then, let us ask ourselves why we celebrate Thanksgiving Day only once a year.
Happy Thanksgiving
Rabbi Fishel Zaklos 

Our hearts and prayers

Our hearts and prayers

Dear Friends, 
Our hearts and prayers continue to go out to the people of New York City, and to the families of innocent victims and the injured, following another terrorist attack on Tuesday. 
An attack on the citizens of the city, or any Americans or innocent people anywhere, is an attack on our freedoms and the values of decency we hold so dear.
We salute our first responders who were on the scene so quickly, preventing further damage. How admirable that the people managed to carry on, showing such grit and courage under the circumstances.
We must continue to champion that goodness to bring light onto others during difficult times. We will not let terror take over our lives or threaten our way of living. "A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness." - The Rebbe
With love and blessings,
Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos
Ettie's Facebook post: 
I'm heartbroken to hear about today's terror attack in New York City that has taken too many innocent lives in such a horrible Way 😞 .
I just spoke with my mother who was in Manhattan at the time of the attack and is thank G-d safe. 
I'm proud to be a New Yorker and the city will forever be one of my favorite places in the world. 
When I see New York's finest, our great first responders, and the kind responses of everyday Americans to such an assault on our society, I am reminded of the essential goodness of people. We will not let terror take over our lives or threaten our way of living. 
My thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families during this painful time.


This year the story resonates strongly with us

Dear Friends,

We are all familiar with the story of Noah and the flood, and how Noah was saved by entering the Ark. This year the story resonates strongly with us as we think of many people still enduring so many hardships as they try to rebuild their lives and in some cases, merely survive. We pray that Hashem gives everyone the strength to continue. 

With Hurricane Irma we realized just what a flood meant and how frightening it could be. But on an emotional level, the raging waters can also represent the pressures of life and how they can sometimes inundate and overwhelm us: the mortgage, bills, the daily grind, external and internal circumstances, When these forces become overwhelming, the Torah gives us guidance, encouraging us to enter the Ark, or in other words, just enter a space of holiness, a place of Torah and prayer, a warm community, a place where others will greet you with love. 

Over the past 14 years, people have expressed to us that at the Naples Chabad family they have found a place where they have felt uplifted, where people care. 

As Ettie and I just celebrated our anniversary, we looked back on a few months after our marriage when we came to Naples as newlyweds. Together with all of you we created this beautiful ark, journeying life together we have created a beautiful family full of love and joy. 

As a family we laugh and cry together, we celebrate simchas and support each other in difficult times.

Water can also signify the refreshing and renewing passage of life. How significant that this week we are also celebrating the baby naming of Art and Ellen Siegel’s granddaughter. How special to share these unique moments of new beginnings. Mazal Tov to Daniel & Lindsay and to the entire Mishpacha.

With love and blessings,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Simchat Torah Message

Simchat Torah Fishel.JPG 

Dear Friends,

These holidays remind us it is the season of rejoicing and being happy. The prime message is that happiness is right here, in this very moment, if you are paying attention and exercise gratitude.
You don’t have to chase after extraordinary moments to find joy! When you see your children, it’s as if they were just born. When you see your spouse, it's as if  it’s your wedding day. With that in mind, let's come together and join for a joyous social evening on Simchat Torah to dance, celebrate and say L’chaim for this very special moment, AND a delicious buffet! 
All are welcome to come and celebrate with us at Chabad on Thursday evening at 7 PM. RSVP required. Office@chabadnaples.com
Celebrate with people who really know how!
• Delicious dinner buffet
• Children program ~ Torah & treats for Children
• Simchat Torah flags
* Memories that will last a lifetime
* All are welcome - No charge RSVP required 

Gold Sponsors:

Trish Adkins

Dr. David Greene & Denise Altman

Torah, Crown & Gold Sponsorships available  


For more information, or to be a sponsor contact the Jewish Center at 239-262-4474 or email office@chabadnaples.com
Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 


Enjoy NOW!

Dear Friends,

Here we are in the midst of Sukkot, a very special holiday when "we celebrate the beauty of things that don't last”.
What exactly does that mean, and how do we do that?
For eight days we sit in a temporary hut decorated by Preschool of the Arts students and eat, celebrate, schmooze, and ponder the message of Sukkot: enjoy NOW! Life is a temporary dwelling that is full of wonderful things, but don’t hesitate, don't wait, don't take anyone or anything for granted — enjoy now!
This is an opportunity for us to shout out loud as both Ettie and I wish you all blessings! We don't take anything for granted, so I say to Hashem as I sit in the sukkah, “Thank you for my family, my extended Chabad Naples family, and the Preschool family.”
The sukkah/hut will be dismantled in eight days. The ripe fruits that adorn the sukkah will spoil if you don't eat them right away. Our friends and family may not be here as long as we wish, so Sukkot reminds us not to take for granted all the wonderful people and things that surround us each day, but to immerse ourselves in them and give thanks for being allowed to be a part of them.
With love and blessings,
Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

Praying for Vegas


Dear Friends, 

Our thoughts, prayers and hearts are open and one with all the victims and their families of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night. Nothing can explain or justify the murder of innocence. A little light dispels darkness and love triumphs hate. During the shooting, hundreds of brave citizens risked their own lives and ran into harm's way to assist the wounded and help total strangers. First responders acted bravely and quickly to save lives and stop the carnage. Thousands of fellow Americans have offered blood and millions stand united with love and support of Las Vegas and everyone affected. May G-d give strength and comfort to the victim's families and loved ones. 

With heavy hearts Ettie and I continue sending love, prayers, and condolences to the survivors for their losses, as the toll of precious lives climbs.

With the loss of each soul, a precious light is extinguished here on earth.
We can only hope to bring the light of reason and learning to comfort each other in a world of darkness. Surely each of us can appreciate the intensified need to bring the light of human kindness to illuminate our saddened world.

Please, take a moment to say a chapter of Psalms , speak to G-d and ask Him to heal the hearts that have been broken, the lives that have been shattered and the fractures in our society. By adding in kindness and good deeds, may goodness prevail over evil and may we know of no more pain and suffering...
We hope everyone had a good and meaningful Yom Kippur and we have been sealed for good blessings and health! What a High Holiday season! High Holidays 5778 was our most exhilarating one yet. All the preparation. All the praying. All the logistics. All the spirituality. All the people. All the meals. All the sitting. All the hellos and goodbyes. All the standing. We had beautiful services, there was strong prayer energy and great spiritual vitality felt by all. We are now getting ready for the start of the Sukkot holiday, which begins tonight. Sukkot is the time to feast and rejoice! 
While High Holidays 5777 is now a thing of the past, hopefully the inspiration is not. 

Please see all our Sukkot Events and Services below, We hope to see you.

Happy Sukkot!
Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

L'Shanah Tovah!

 Zaklos family.jpgDear Friends,

Ettie and the children join me in wishing you and yours a happy and healthy, sweet new year. We are honored to be part of this special Chabad of Naples family. You have given us the privilege of a lifetime.

As we head into Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year when we spend time in prayer, and contemplation, we take some time to stop and reflect on the multitude of blessings of this past year. 

The Naples and Marco Island communities who have responded to us and blessed us lovingly for the past 14 years have helped us assemble a beautiful family, an oasis of love and friendship, and a beacon of light and learning. We are now a multi-generational campus filled with laughter and joy. 

As we revel in the growth of our children and the milestones we have celebrated, we remember the wonderful people who surround us with love and support us with their friendship every step of the way. Thank you for all your support. As we  look forward to another year, please continue to join and hold hands.  

Join us for any or all of the services we will be conducting for Yom Kippur this year in our beautiful family shul. 

May all of your heartfelt prayers be accepted on high, and answered with open and bountiful blessings. 

With love and gratitude and heartfelt wishes that you be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet new year.

With love,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos


We Are One

We Are One

Shabbat Shalom with love and light!

In Houston it is amazing to see so many people being there for each other in such incredible ways. No one is waiting for agencies and organizations to step in: citizens who are able are stepping forward to volunteer time and energy. The people in Texas who are less affected by the hurricane disaster, are holding out their hands and opening their hearts without examining the race, creed, color, or religion of those who need help.

During the devastation, we saw hurricanes of goodness and kindness being created. Stories and photos of strangers helping strangers were shared on social media. These acts create powerful winds. Hurricane Harvey affected 13 million people. The hurricane of kindness that we create could potentially reach all 7 billion humans on planet earth.

I have two close friends, Rabbi Yossi Zaklikofsky and Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff and I have been in touch with them every day. They are working wonders and just like Abraham and Sarah are opening their doors, cooking meals and working nonstop just to bring relief.

Let us hope that from this unfortunate experience, we see a return to the unconditional love and brotherhood on which this country can flourish. Let’s take this inspiration and translate it into action. Together we can create a large-scale hurricane, a hurricane of love and kindness, one that will demolish all pain and suffering – once and for all!

Our hearts and thoughts go out to all those impacted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Labor Day Weekend to all.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Sharing the Wonder in the Familiar


Sharing the Wonder in the Familiar

How refreshing it was on Monday of this week, when so many people seemed united, concentrating one one uplifting event: the eclipse. Throughout the country people were handing out the special glasses to share with each other, their friends, and others to witness the event.

The atmosphere was one of happy sharing and excitement as everyone looked heavenward, concentrating on the major event in the sky.

For at least an hour we were all looking up, not down at the world and each other.

For a least an hour, we were able to set our differences aside to marvel and rejoice in this wonderful world we inhabit together.

For at least an hour, we shared the fascinating, beautiful world of science and nature.

For at least an hour, we were happy and willing to share a wonderful experience.

What a joyous world this would be, if we created and made a little effort to carry moments like this forward in our lives. We don’t need an eclipse: daily we have the reality of exciting sunsets and inspiring sunrises, possibly the excitement of dazzling and noisy thunderstorms, and perhaps the glory of a colorful rainbow. Let’s take the time to look around us, appreciate what we may take for granted, and share it with each other.

Love Eclipsing Hate



Dear Friends,

Monday of next week we will have the extraordinary experience of witnessing a solar eclipse. For a relatively brief period of time, the light will be hidden, the world will be in darkness. In our minds we know that as one planet passes in front of another, the darkness will be temporary. Science and reason tell us that. Everything in the physical world parallels the spiritual. Our faith and belief give us the same kind of reassurance in our hearts, that light will return to our troubled world even more quickly.

Images of hatred, the likes of which we haven't seen in our lifetimes, have recently re-emerged. We cannot ignore the recent events in the world, most recently in Charlottesville and in Spain, more events in a series of senselessness, and horrific killings and injury of innocent people. As empathetic, loving human beings who care about each other, we cannot allow time to turn back to a dark era where millions were murdered because of their beliefs or how they looked. We must be able to clarify evil and recognize it for what it is. To ignore these deaths is to accept them and to accept the evil that caused these massacres.

Silence in the face of evil is not only immoral - it is dangerous. Because when it is not stopped, then everyone becomes a victim. We must uproot the evil before it gets another chance to strike.

In addition, here is what we will do:

For every offensive slogan that their vile mouths utter, we will replace it with kind greetings to strangers that we meet today. For every precious life snuffed out, we commit to enhancing the lives of underprivileged members of society.

For every repulsive symbol that their bloody hands wave, we will raise symbols of our pride - Mezuzahs on our doors, Tefillin on our arms and Shabbat candles for women to wave their hands over and usher in our weekly day of peace.

So as we welcome Shabbat this evening let us light our Shabbat Candles and usher in the light and the goodness of Mitzvot into our lives, and let us not be blinded by evil, but meet it head-on with all the love and blessings we can muster.

As Ettie shares the Shabbat blessings with the children, experiencing their first Shabbat of the Preschool year, we realize how much more of this we need -- we must bring more light and love into the world -- they are our hope, our raison d'etre, our future.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

I want to be like you when I grow up

 Ruth 2.jpg


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

 Elter Bubby pic.JPG

“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

All years 17 resized.jpg 

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.


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.


Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.