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 The weekend was filled with inspiration, information and camaraderie. But simultaneously there was a cloud hanging over the event with the knowledge that Hurricane Sandy had just caused so much havoc throughout the area.

As promised last week, I would like to share some thoughts from the conference in New York. We began with workshops and sessions ranging from time management, PR, adult education, fundraising, to programming, just to name a few. It was so inspiring  to see people from all walks of life participating. Many of the workshops were facilitated  by leaders of other major Jewish organizations, working together to bring goodness to the entire world.

The theme of the conference was “From Day to Day”, encouraging us  to live each moment to the fullest. So I actually tried to practice that motto at least for the few days that I was there. In addition to attending the sessions and workshops, I have always believed that what is so special about the conference is to meet your friends and colleagues whom you grew up with, now that they are in communities all over the world. There I was walking down the hall when I met Rabbi Schneer Kesselman, who lived on my block in Detroit, and now is in Malmo, Sweden. Then I met Rabbi Binayamin  Wolf: we  received our rabbinical degrees together and he is now in Finland.  Next I caught a few words with Rabbi Shaul Wilhelm from Norway, and finally I met the Chabad rabbi from Ho Chi Minh City,  Vietnam, and I shared with him some of the memories from my visit in 2000 when i went to establish the Chabad seder. What an inspiration to hear about the sacrifices, the love, and the commitment from so many of them. If you could choose between Naples or Vietnam, which one would you pick?

I felt honored when the organizers of the conference asked me to head a workshop for the lay leaders on Sunday, entitled “Why Chabad”:  why should people feel compelled to support an organization  called Chabad? Yes,  thanks to our incredible community we really are becoming the "world-famous Chabad of Naples", by becoming a model for a center of love, warmth, and although growing rapidly, still maintaining the haymische feeling.

The room was packed and the amazing thing was to hear from Jews from across the board, whether  business people or Jewish leaders. speaking about Chabad. Many of them included words like “ non-judgmental”, "results driven”,  "love” , “passion”,  "devoted",  "dedicated” and "ROI":  you get a return on your investment.  Feel safe and assured, that your investment and  partnership in Chabad Naples has high endorsements.

The conference drew to a close at the Hilton in NYC. It was originally scheduled to be at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal but Hurricane Sandy forced a change of plans at the last moment. It was amazing to see how everything was organized to the last detail and to learn the 5,000 people who attended the banquet may have attended the largest kosher dinner in NYC. Everyone couldn’t fit  in one room so there was a main room and four other rooms that were live streaming communications. The one question that people  asked about the banquet was: "Was the food hot by the time it got to you?"

 And my answer was,  it may have been cold but the warmth in the room replaced the coldness of the chicken.

The amazing spontaneous dancing by all the people was inspiring, motivational, and energetic, and we are back with that strength and vitality to continue creating  our center that will be unprecedented in its size, warmth, and friendliness. 

With love. If you want more, reply to this email or send me your feedback.


Rabbi Fishel Zaklos