Rabbi Fishel's Blog - Chabad of Naples
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Simchat Torah Message

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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!
A GRAND SIMCHAT CELEBRATION FOR ALL AGES! 
 
• 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

 

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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

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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! 
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