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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Solidarity

The Jewish Community of Greater Naples is fortunate to have congregations that each inspire and teach us. The Jewish Federation of Greater Naples applauds the leaderships of our congregations in helping our community through these challenging times due to the Coronavirus. This is a true sign of community solidarity as we each work to build our community TOGETHER!

Jane Schiff, Board Chair Jeffrey Feld, President & CEO

Jewish Federation of Greater Naples

Dear Friend(s),

 

Kol Ha-Olam Kulo Gesher Tzar M’od, V’ha-ikar lo l’fachad k’lal

“The whole world is a narrow bridge, and the main thing is to not have fear.”

That teaching from Reb Nachman of Bratzlav resonates with us during this time. We feel the narrowness of the world, we sense its fragility, yet we also seek to live by our hope, not our fear. Toward that end, the ordained Jewish clergy of our community have come together to send you this message in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples.

We all value the importance of pikuach nefesh, protecting human life. Motivated by this core Jewish value, we recognized the importance of social distancing as a response to COVID-19. Over the last two months, our congregations have gone to new places in order to care for our community. In lieu of our traditional interactions, they have engaged with classes and programs over Zoom, worship online, food access programs, and distance pastoral care. When it is all said and done, we will emerge from this experience stronger, more appreciative, inspired, and better prepared to face the future. We have learned many times throughout history that simply because we haven’t physically been together, it in no way infers that the bonds which unite us and the connections we feel are any less strong in the absence of physical gathering.

We look forward to being able to be together again. Like you, we miss having our community and friends gathering together. Each organization will make its own decisions regarding a timetable for moving forward. Understanding the importance of safeguarding life, we will wait patiently for our state and local officials to establish safe protocols for us to come together again. In the meantime, we urge everyone to continue taking appropriate precautions, wear masks and maintain social distancing when going out for essential needs, continue to maintain social distancing when walking and exercising outside, refrain from communal gatherings and continue to be vigilant with hand washing.

Our sages tell the story of King Solomon searching for a message that could inspire hope as well as provide humility. Solomon is given the answer, “*gam zeh ya’avor – *this too shall pass.” This plague of COVID-19 will pass in time. Know that our Jewish community will be here, remaining strong together. Until that time, stay safe and be healthy.

Shalom re'fuah u'vracha - wishing you peace, health, and blessing,

Cantor Donna Azu

Temple Shalom of Naples

Rabbi Ariel Boxman

Temple Shalom of Naples

Rabbi Ammos Chorny

Beth Tikvah

Rabbi Mark Gross

Jewish Congregation of Marco Island

Rabbi Howard Herman

Naples Jewish Congregation

Rabbi Adam Miller

Temple Shalom of Naples

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos

Chabad of Naples

 

Dig down into our reserves

Dear Friends,    

We have now come to the end of Pesach, the festival of freedom. Is it simply a case of waving goodbye to this holiday, its different foods and traditions? Not so fast! Some have the custom at the Seder to say: Chasal Siddur Pesach - the order of Pesach is now finished. Yet others prefer not to. 

Why not? Because the essential spiritual task of Pesach - the liberation of our soul from the constraints of our inner Egypt - does not end when Pesach concludes. Its lessons remain with us and sustain us throughout every day of the year. 

This journey, this story is not over. It began with our ancestors long ago; it continues with us now. We remember not merely out of nostalgia - we do so because now it is our turn to add to the narrative, throughout the coming year. And we certainly have a global plague-related saga to share! 

We hope everyone is well and not too stressed out from a case of cabin fever.  At the beginning of our 'voluntary incarceration' a few weeks ago, it may have been a little easier to keep our spirits high and actually enjoy being at home most of the time. Zoom was new, meeting on Facebook live was new, and we were still relatively happy.    

Now as the days, weeks and possibly months pass, time seems to move very slowly, one day passes much the same as the last, and routines become almost boring and mundane. It may be getting to us. Now is the time we need blessings, to dig down into our reserves to find the strength to carry on in a happy frame of mind.    

You know how much I value two-way communication and appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Staying in touch and connected helps to ride the waves - please keep your thoughts coming!

I wish you and your dear family a wonderful and safe Shabbat! We are mishpochah and we are in this together, now and always!  

 Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

 

 

Why is this Passover different from all others?

The past few weeks have plunged us all into a world of chaos, instability, and uncertainty, a world that we hardly recognize. The Passover Seder is just days away. The definition of 'Seder' is 'order,' precisely the safety net we now crave. First, we must hear the message of our Seder. Know without a doubt that we are not alone in this world. Just as our people wondered in Egypt if they would ever get out of the awful darkness they were suffering, we too may wonder: Are we spiraling out of control? Will we ever see the light again?

Why is this Passover different from all others? And yet, the same? It is the season of our freedom - and freedom is a state of mind. It’s up to us, how we choose to perceive and spend this Passover. These days, it’s our state of mind that will carry us through these trying times. It’s not the first time the Jewish people, or other downtrodden groups   have been put ‘on trial’, unfortunately, and now the situation is universal and we are all in this together - what a monumental challenge for G-d! 

Just look at Jewish history and the times we were filled with pain and suffering, and we survived. We survived as stronger people, to enjoy the sweetness that followed.

Seder night comes to teach us perspective for life. There is marror (bitter herbs); it is true. Our forefathers had many moments of grief. There were times that they were anguished and felt as if they had lost their spirit. But they did not allow the marror moments to overcome them. They were not stripped of their faith. We dip the marror into charoset - a delicious mixture of apples, nuts, wine and dates - to teach us that even in the most difficult of times we must see the sweetness that imbues our life. The friendships, the love, the resilience, the kindness that surrounds us. G-d took us out of Egypt, and we will get out of this darkness too.

At our Seder we make a sandwich of matzah and marror with a bit of charoset, for such is life. Sandwiched between the hardships are the flashes of joy. Grab onto them! Seize the moment.

With quarantines and social distancing, take this time to build a bridge. Call someone you've lost touch with. Think of others who are feeling isolated right now and hug them with your heart.

This one germ has spread throughout the world and created havoc. Imagine how one good word, one good deed could spread throughout the world and counter the devastation. Your light could spread from one person to another, and on and on. The antidote to destruction is creation. Create goodness. Be a blessing.

May this Shabbas message bring us all the comfort we deserve and the strength to establish that mindset that will grant us the patience to appreciate all the good things G-d has given us, while facing adversity. We still have the freedom to ask Him for His continued blessings - what a gift that is! Remember in good and in not-so-good times, to thank G-d for allowing us to ask, and for his loving care.

And please remember the words of the Rebbe, Rabbi Schneerson: TRACHT GUT VET ZEIN GUT - THINK GOOD & IT'LL BE GOOD!  

The gift of Shabbat

Thank you!  

We must begin with a prayer to G-d that all the ill be healed, all the grieved be comforted, that all the medical heroes find strength (!), that all the researchers find the vaccine, and that all governments govern with mercy and with wisdom!  

This is an unprecedented time in the history of mankind. Never before has Planet Earth witnessed such a mass effort of every human being wherever they may be concentrating their focus in one direction: fighting an illness! 

It's unfortunate that it's taken this terrible virus to bring us all together, but now that we're here we need to learn and grow from this experience. The world must become a better place when this thing is over - better than it was before COVID-19 attacked.  

That's exactly what Shabbat is about. The gift of Shabbat is the gift of a mandated pause in time, forcing us to reflect on the week that has passed so that we can improve in the week ahead. 

We have closed so many doors these last few days, no one has been entering our homes...

But tonight we have an opportunity to host a guest who seeks our company, as we seek her peace and camaraderie.

Her name is Shabbos... Close your connection to the outside world and allow your inner world to blossom and to thrive.
 

Welcome her light into your home, as the sun begins to set on Friday (at 7:21pm in Naples), enjoy her company until Saturday after nightfall (8:13pm) and from there the light will go viral to your friends, neighbors and family.
 

Let's make this world shine forever!

To our dear community

And you shall guard your lives very well 

Deuteronomy 4:15

To our dear community,

I hope and pray you and your loved ones are ok.
 
As the spread of COVID-19 continues, Chabad of Naples is focusing on health and safety, especially to protect vulnerable people in our community.

With heavy hearts, we regret to inform you that Chabad of Naples has suspended all programming and upcoming events, including synagogue services, until further notice. We do so with an eye to Judaism’s foundational teachings about the preservation of life.

It is at unpredictable times like this that we must turn to each other with support and look for ways to be of service. Please let us know if there is any way we can assist you.
 
In addition, if anyone who would like to volunteer to help our community - by helping purchase groceries for the elderly and those at higher risk or in other community-minded ways - please reach out. We are stronger together and we will get through this as a community. 

Our team is working to set up a proactive Chessed committee charged with the task of reaching out to those who are most vulnerable in our community.

Members are ready-to-go and will call you, shop for you, deliver to you, speak with you and help you through this. If this applies to you or someone in your world, please call us if you need assistance.

We must also never lose sight of the importance and power of prayer. It is vital that we continue to focus our hearts and minds in prayer to Almighty G-d, who provides the ultimate means of protection and healing for the entire world.

We assembled select prayers as well as other resources, including a free quarantine Kaddish service, for those that cannot make it to synagogue.

Please visit our ever-expanding section on our website at Www.chabadnaples.com/coronavirus.

Please know that we will communicate with you and share all information as we receive it. We are, first and foremost, mishpochah, our communication is two-way. Reach out, contact us if you need - we are here, day and night. 

Connection to our community is what we are all about. So much of our world revolves around our close connection with each other. We love and cherish that.

We are going through trying times. Let’s be there for each other. Every challenge is an opportunity. Let’s make the best of the situation we are all in. If you know of someone that can use a helping hand or if you are available to give a helping hand to someone in need, please contact us. As always, if there is anything we can do to help you, a loved one or anyone else, please reach out to us.

We will be continually monitoring the latest advisories and relevant information regarding COVID-19 from the CDC website, while also consulting with other organizational leaders on how to take the most proactive approach to prevent the spread of the virus.

May G-d bless and protect you and your families and keep you safe.

We can’t wait to daven and dance with you once again. As your rabbi, and as your friends, we are here.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos
Arthur Seigel M. D.

 

 

 

Friends in High Places

Friends in High Places

These are trying times for all of us, to say the least, and I just want to share a few thoughts with you before, G-d willing, we put out a more formal statement tomorrow.

We are surrounded on all sides by the Corona Virus. Everyone and everything is being consumed and overwhelmed: countries are shutting their entries and borders, sports are suspended, much recreational travel has been halted. Many shelves are empty in our local supermarkets as people rush to stock their pantries. The fear is real as we pray for medical science to find a cure quickly.  

 

How can we help? We cannot allow ourselves to succumb to fear and panic, allowing negative perceptions and predictions to cripple us completely. Life must go on, and part of guarding our physical health, involves maintaining our mental and emotional health. We know the value of ‘talk therapy’, and how just being able to speak with a friend often makes us feel so much better. And where could we find a better friend?

Perhaps we can talk with G-d, and spend some time with Him in prayer. We should not disregard or fail to appreciate the power of prayer at this time. We should also talk with our friends, keeping elderly, homebound, and solitary people in mind and reach out with a phone call to chat and show we are thinking of them.

After touching base with a few people earlier today, I could see how uplifting it was for them to have the contact with another person. Showing that we care is a simple thing that has a huge impact and takes so little of our time.

Coming together this morning for prayer was a comforting and healing process for us. Although a smaller number attended, we were humbled and reminded of our fragility and vulnerability. When we recited the famous Shma Koileinu prayer, we knew G-d heard our voices.

As we double down on our healthy practices such as hand washing thoroughly, avoiding large crowds, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching the face and other people, let us not ignore our simple but very important spiritual needs.

May Hashem bless humanity with the insight and the capability to cure this virus and end its path of disease, thereby bringing health, prosperity and goodness to the world.

 

save one life is to save the world

As we count down this weekend to Purim, let us hope and pray that the only thing going viral is a spirit of cooperation, unity, and love.

Dear Friends,

We are all concerned about the spread of the Coronavirus. We need to intensify prayers for healing for all those infected, and for this fear to pass quickly. Join us this Shabbat Morning for special prayers to heal and arrest the Coronavirus. The Special prayers will be said at 11:15 AM when the Ark is opened. Join us as for long as you wish.

As the coronavirus spreads across the world, it reminds us, in the most powerful way, of our common humanity. The virus does not recognize race, religion or nationality. We are all equal – all human beings as brothers and sisters together facing a shared crisis.

Our sages teach us that to “save one life is to save the world”. We need to take every precaution to protect and defend human life, especially those who are most vulnerable to this virus.

1. Wash your hands thoroughly before entering shul, with an alcohol based hand wash. Hand hygiene and regular washing of hands is the most important precautionary measure. Wash the front and back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails for 20 seconds (or enough time to sing “Happy Birthday” twice).

2. No handshaking.

3. No hugging and kissing.

4. Anyone who is ill with respiratory symptoms such as a fever, sore throat, coughing and sneezing should avoid coming to shul and infecting others.

5. Anyone with a travel history in the past 21 days to any area that has had an outbreak of COVID-19 should also not come to shul for least 14 days, as they may be asymptomatic carriers.

Chabad Jewish Center remains open as usual, and we encourage you to participate in upcoming Shabbat, and especially the PURIM festivities.

At a time like this, when tension and stress may be elevated, the fabric of community keeps us strong. Please see how you can increase in acts of compassion and support for people in the community, who may need them more now than ever.

Uplifting messages:

May Hashem bless humanity with the insight and the capability to cure this virus and end its path of disease, thereby bringing health, prosperity and goodness to the world.

With blessings

Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos and Happy Purim

 Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

WE ALL HAVE A MISSION

Sadie.jpg 

WE ALL HAVE A MISSION

In this week's portion, we start reading about the construction of the Mishkan, portable Temple, that the Jews build in the desert. In painstaking detail, we learn the precise measurements and materials that G-d wanted to be used in the construction. 

The amount of attention this building gets in the Torah text is astounding. This is because of the centrality of the Temple to the Jewish mission.

Building a home for G-d is the central theme of the entire Torah. Yes, the home described in this week's reading took the form of a physical structure in a specific place, but it is symbolic of the broader Temple that we are to build: making space for G-d in every area of our lives. Every Mitzvah is a sacred channel for the divine and builds a conceptual home for G-d in our world. G-d's role is to create the world; our role is to make a home for Him in that creation.

Often, as we become so preoccupied with everyday activities, we allow ourselves to become distracted and forget what is really important and relevant.  As Jews, we have an ongoing mission and responsibility: to maintain that role that G-d has created for us in this world, by constantly being aware of the world around us so that we may continue never forget to look after each other.

As we welcome Hashem into our lives and feel the resulting happiness, we can learn from one of our younger members how our relationship to others can make a difference.

We are so proud of one of our recent Hebrew School and Bat mitzvah graduates, Sadie Lipman, whose prize-winning essay placed first in the Laws of Life essay contest ahead of more than 1,000 entries.

Her topic of showing kindness and respect to others was written with courage, confidence, knowledge, and a personal touch that is both gratifying and humbling. And let us not forget to mention, a lot of writing talent!

I never tire of hearing how a perfect stranger, Chiune Sugihara, is responsible for my family’s existence by saving my grandfather’s life.

Although Sadie lives in better times, she shows sensitivity and empathy far beyond her years. We are so proud of her as we congratulate her for this outstanding essay.

****

Sadie Lipman 

Community School of Naples

Stacy Keibler once said “Show kindness and respect towards everyone. Pure intentions make the biggest difference.” Pure intentions always come from the heart and often go against the advised actions. With pure intentions and an overall respect for humanity, one person can change the world. Chinese diplomat Ho Feng-Shan was one of those people.

Kristallnacht, one of the most horrifying nights in history, was the start of a time where Europeans believed Jews to be unwelcome and dangerous. Alarmingly, almost 200,000 Jews were living in Austria at the time, all in need of asylum. Out of thirty-two countries that gathered, only the Dominican Republic offered to help; however, they had a limit on the refugees they could take. In his own country of China, Ho was told the same. His value of the safety of 100,000 strangers outweighed his respect for his supervisors, though. He ended up writing tens of thousands of visas to help Jews flee danger. Because of Ho, thousands of Jews survived the Holocaust and were able to make homes in Shanghai and around the world. Despite his unwavering selflessness, Ho Feng-Shan was exiled from his home country as a result of his actions. Three years after his death, the Israeli organization Yad Vashem honored him with the title of “Righteous Among the Nations,” granting all of his progeny legal citizenship in Israel.

Just a couple thousand miles away, a Japanese councilman called Chiune Sugihara did almost the exact same thing. He, too, was eventually ousted from his homeland, but even as he was on the train out, he was writing and throwing visas out the window! One of those visas landed in the hand of a man named Rabbi Moshe Rubin. Because of Sugihara’s altruistic actions, Rubin found his way out of inevitable death and created a home in the United States of America; the place that was welcoming to everyone. There, he made a family and eventually had a grandson named Fishel Zaklos, who moved to Naples, Florida where he currently leads a temple of his own. Rabbi Fishel, a man who wouldn’t even be alive if not for Sugihara’s work, became a very influential person in my own life. For the past five years, he has been my rabbi. 

Indirectly through Sugihara’s selfless choices, I have been affected. Without the kindness and respect that the councilman had for strangers he didn’t even know the names of, I would be a totally different person. From both Chiune Sugihara and Ho Feng Shan, I have learned selflessness, courage, and the importance of having an open and respectful attitude towards everyone, because if I do, I can change the world.

 

Happiness And Wellbeing

Happiness And Wellbeing

Now it may seem a little strange to us, to have to contemplate “working at happiness and well-being”, but as the month of Adar begins, that’s just what the Talmud advises: “increase and expand with joy and happiness”.

As we bless the Jewish month of Adar this Shabbas, and Wednesday begins this powerful month of joy and good fortune, we recognize it as a month of good luck,a "mazel'dik" month.

The Talmud says one should try to schedule an important court case in Adar for extra good luck, and that Adar would also be the perfect time to move into a new home, undertake a new endeavor in business, or try something new we've been meaning to do but were afraid to take a chance.

Even if we don’t have any major plans in our near future, we might consider this as a time to stop momentarily and reassess our lives: let’s appreciate a peaceful state of mind and tune in to being happier and to expand our world a bit by working at gratefulness and doing something extra or unique that we were afraid to attempt. Here is a special time, a great opportunity to tap into fresh beginnings and take advantage of new and exciting experiences!

Let us all bring this joyous spirit of excitement and experiment to our celebration of Purim in the Stadium, (no snowballs!) coming Tuesday, March 10th! Call the office to RSVP or register online:

Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

L’chaim Ettie!

Ettie.JPG

L’chaim Ettie!

As we welcome Shabbos, I want to wish a very special L’chaim to my dear wife Ettie Zaklos, who is spending this Shabbos in New York together with our daughters Chaya and Hinda.

This weekend is the International Convention for Chabad Women Leaders, and Ettie is getting the rare opportunity to gather with 3,000 of her peers from all over the world for a weekend of inspiration and growth.

The common saying that “behind every successful man is a woman” is not true in our case, as Ettie and I have proudly worked side by side for the past 17 years co-directing Chabad of Naples together as partners. It is with pride that I get to watch as my daughters join their incredible mother and learn from her inspiring leadership.

L’chaim for everything you do for our Chabad of Naples and for bringing so much joy and love into our community and our home.

I hope you enjoy this very special Shabbos and are able to reflect and rejuvenate for another year of growth and leadership.

Although it is impossible for me, both literally and figuratively to fill her shoes, I will do my best to hang in and ‘hold the fort’ until she returns.

Look forward to seeing you in Shul tomorrow.

Shabbat Shalom!

****

Parshah thought in honor of Rebbitzin Ettie and the thousands of Chabad Rebbetzins, "Shluchos" from across the globe.

In this week’s Torah portion we have the delivery of the ten commandments.

It is interesting to note in the scene at Mount Sinai, in the days leading up to that most awesome spiritual event in history, G-d gives Moses very specific instructions about conveying the message to the Jewish people: in preparation for the big event, He tells Moses to first address “Bait Yakov” – the women – and only afterwards the men.

The point was, that G-d knew the only way His Torah would be properly received and effectively transmitted from one generation to the next was through the enhanced qualities of vision and foresight, clarity and intuition, loving and nurturing, that women bring to the table.

This is a phenomenon that we have seen throughout the millennia, that there was a more internal, far-sighted, and soul-based influence wielded by our strong and competent Jewish women. These qualities have served as our nation’s greatest source of salvation and most effective engine for positive change and growth.

When we study the lives and times of the heroines of our history, women like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, like Chana and Devora, Ruth and Queen Esther, and so many others, the common thread among all of them was their keen ability to see beyond the difficult issues and challenges of the moment, to the bigger picture of what it’s all about and to act and lead the way with incredible boldness and selflessness.

This week Ettie is at the Chabad conference, attended by women hailing from around the world, as far away as Laos and Angola. As more than 3,000 Chabad women gather in Crown Heights, can you imagine the power emanating from there!

This is a special time to acknowledge, as we all know, the not-so-secret formula behind the success of Chabad and Preschool: it is Ettie

Playing to Win

 BASKET.jpg

Playing to Win

The action photos of me playing major league football seem to be missing, so instead I respectfully submit one where I am less likely to end up with a concussion…..

This past his Sunday there was a major game and such an event usually  produces a powerful lesson.

As you watched the Super Bowl, or even if you only heard about it, there are different ways to consider the outcome.

A story about the Rebbe speaking with a student before his Bar mitzvah comes to mind. He asked him, if he was a sports fan and when he watched a game and his team was losing, if he left and went home.

The boy admitted he went home, disappointed, before a game ended. The Rebbe pointed out, that’s the difference between fans and players: players continue to play the game no matter what, not having the luxury of walking away until the game ends.

We are all players in the Super Bowl game of every day life as we have to respond to the universal message of continuing to play against all odds. We make a difference to our family, our friends, and to those who witness ‘our game’.

Every game has winners and losers, and that is not always determined by the score, as we know: it’s how we play the game.

As much as you may enjoy the game and enjoy the special family time, do not hesitate to get involved in a game as a player: step up and keep on playing your very best to the end.

The Rebbe’s goal was to reach out  and to remind  everyone to be a player in life, and that’s  why he envisioned this world dotted with  Chabad Centers  that are led by his students, creating a better brighter place for all.

And this is the message of this week's Torah reading.  When the Jews faced the sea in front of them and the mighty Egyptian army behind them, many froze and some wanted to return to Egypt, ready to give up.  But  G-d said one word: Vayisau….Move on. Keep on moving and journeying. March on, put one foot in front of the other and go forward, and that’s what Nachson did.  He went into the water and when it rose up to his nose,  that’s when the waters miraculously split.

When we play the game of life and forge ahead,  miracles will happen.

 

Spread the Light!


Spread the Light!

Wednesday of this week will mark 70 years since the Rebbe assumed leadership of Chabad. One message which he stressed both with his students and with all his followers, was bringing light.

This week's Torah reading describes darkness covering the land of Egypt:  "And there was a thick darkness throughout the land of Egypt for a three-day period. No person could see his or her brother or sister”.

The plague of darkness can be interpreted as a metaphor for the inability for some to be aware of other people in the world. Life isn’t all about ourselves. Darkness falls when we turn exclusively inward and live a life of egocentricity and selfishness. When we care only about ourselves, our interests, our success, our needs, our happiness, we are cloaked in darkness.  

The Rebbe helped us realize and made us aware that bringing light and living not just for ourselves, but for others around us, was vitally important. Being trapped in selfishness and self- centeredness only, is truly a life of darkness that could result in pain and suffering like a plague.  

May we always have the light of caring for others, of honesty, integrity and fighting for justice shining within our homes and community.

It’s amazing to see how Chabad has grown, and how much had been accomplished. It is fair to say that - through his thousands of students spread all over the world - the Rebbe continues to inspire millions, Jews and non-Jews alike, to bring more goodness and kindness into the dark world we live in.

The Rebbe's legacy lives on. It was this vision of love for every individual and a vision of a perfected world that inspired our lifetime move to Naples. We carry his messages with us on a daily basis.

As we look around us on this 70th anniversary, let's meet the challenge ourselves, by working harder to bring light and share it. Right now the world is in dire need of it, so let’s all strive to bring the light and spread it around!

Thank you Rebbe for infusing such powerful purpose in our lives and countless others.

Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light,
 
Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

The Overwhelming Love Felt in Both Directions

 Dear Friends,

There are few words I can say that would capture how grateful and blessed I felt throughout the incredible evening that was my 40th birthday celebration on Sunday.   

I want to publicly share my thanks to G-d for surrounding me with such beautiful people who raised me up and showered me with such love. I hope I can, in a small way, reflect that immense love back to you.  

Thank you to my amazing wife, Ettie - whose love, devotion, beauty, grace, strength, encouragement, confidence, intuition and perception is the not-so-secret formula behind the Zaklos Family's thriving spirit and Chabad of Naples' ongoing success.

I feel so deeply and incredibly grateful for every friend who honored us with your presence - and for the many others who sent their wishes from afar. The overwhelming love felt in both directions was the truest feeling of joyous Mishpacha, family, that I could ever hope for. Thank you for that gift that I will treasure forever.    

It is you, my dearest community, wonderful friends, and beloved family, who inspire me to head into the next 40 years of my life with more vigor and purpose than ever before.

May you all be blessed many times over for the kindnesses you have shown me, and may we only celebrate joyous occasions together!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

 

 

Some of my Remarks at 40th Celebration:  

I am so touched and so moved. How do I begin to convey how deeply thankful I am to each and every one of you for being a part of this celebration. So, whether my words hit the mark or not, I hope that you can nonetheless feel the vibes of love and gratitude emanating from the deepest depths of my heart, and that they, kinetically, enter yours.

Frankly, the only way I am able to wrap my head around all of this, and get comfortable with all the “lionizing” going on here tonight, is through the realization that this is not really about “me” – Fishel Zaklos, per se – but what I represent as the Director of Chabad of Naples... In other words – the community.

Let’s be real: none of what goes on at Chabad of Naples is the result of a one-man or one-woman show. Ettie and I may have been the catalysts, but from day one, Chabad of Naples has been – and will always be – the sum total of all those who support, and participate in, its programs and activities.

So, this is not a glorifying celebration of me, but rather, a humbling celebration of all of us! To the extent that Ettie and I have been able to accomplish great things in this part of the world over the past 16 years, it is because we have been accompanied on this journey by so many remarkable and incredible individuals.

On the personal front, I perceive this milestone as challenging me to new heights, rather than beckoning me to take a bow for old ones.

On the very first birthday in human history, G-d called out to Adam in the Garden of Eden, saying: “Ayekah – where are you?” This same call goes out to the soul of every human being, every day – but especially on one’s birthday.

Ayeka is a stark reminder that we each have a unique and important mission to accomplish in this life - and time is ticking by... “Ayeka – where and what are you up to, in this world?... How are you progressing in fulfilling your unique mission and in living up to your unique potential?

That challenge is invigorating, as it reinforces our awareness of the vital role we each play in G-d’s master plan of creation; how each of us truly matter, in this vast and magnificent universe.

I am heartened by the knowledge that as I seek to intensify my efforts in the days and years ahead, you will all continue to be there with me – every step of the way. Like me, Divine Providence brought you to this place so that you could help light up this corner of the world by bringing more and more goodness into your surroundings. So let us, as one, draw upon the energy of this evening to inspire each other to do exactly that......... No pressure -- of course!

Finally, the Talmud tells us that on a birthday, one’s “mazel”, or “shining star”, is in a dominant and radiant state, thereby giving the birthday boy, the power and capacity to bestow blessing upon others.

That being the case, I would like give all of you a blessing – not so much as a rabbi but as a member of my extended family, which is really how I regard each and every one of you – as part of our “mishpacha”... And that is no exaggeration.

Yevorechecho Hasham v’yishmirecho……… Ya-eir Hashem Panav eilecho vee-chunekah……… Yisa Hashem Panav eilecho V’yaseim lecho Shalom!

May Hashem bless you with peace, tranquility and good fortune... May He grant you and yours good health – physically and spiritually – for many long, and meaningful years to come… May He ensure that you enjoy nachas from all of your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren…

May we, as a community, continue coming together – in a spirit of love and harmony, happiness and solidarity – to share in each other’s joy and Simchois until we merit the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our own days...
Thank you, thank you, thank you all so much for this incredible celebration…

You are the very essence of friendship defined!… I love you all!… G-d bless you all!

 

What's your name - and why it's important to me

Dear Friends,            

In this week's Torah reading, Shemot, we are introduced to the Jews enslaved in Egypt as well as to their ultimate savior, Moses. 

Moses was shepherding his father-in-law's flocks when G-d appointed him to approach Pharoah and demand the Jews' release from bondage.

The Midrash teaches that Moses was tending to a single wayward sheep that had strayed from the rest of the flock when he encountered the burning bush where G-d addressed him.

It was his care and concern for this individual animal that demonstrated his qualification as a leader. True, a leader must have the big picture in mind, but he can never forget the individuals that need special attention and assistance.

That's what made Moses a great leader, and it's a reminder to each of us: there is no person too small or insignificant for our attention.

Strive to be a leader like Moses! People deserve to be treated with the respect and dignity they have earned, and  how better to show that than to address everyone by his name.

As many know, we have a special tradition at Chabad Naples when after the service I wish each individual in the shul, by name, a personal Shabbat shalom.

Even though we had over 150 people last week, we managed to do it.

We strive to follow the lead of Moses: everyone counts and matters equally. We have grown a lot, and will continue to grow - G-d willing,  but we always hope to maintain the heimishe feeling at the  world-famous Chabad of Naples.

The challenge of the future will be  when we have 1,000 people in the shul.  Let's do it, and we will worry about the rabbi naming them all when it happens! No pressure. Rabbi Fishel!�� 

Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light, 

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

THE VIEW OF THE WHOLE CAMPUS KSU Portable 1.jpg

What a day! What a crowd! A whirlwind week for the Jewish community

What a day! What a crowd!

A Wonderful Wonderland

Dear Friends,     

 

Huuuuuge!

What a day! What a crowd!

Our biggest ever Chanukah Festival in the park! A MASSIVE crowd came together to celebrate and share the Chanukah spirit of friendship, happiness and peace.

Jewish pride was visible in great numbers everywhere. Throngs of happy people filled Cambier Park completely to experience Winter Wonderland and participate in what might have been the largest Chanukah gathering ever in Naples. A rough estimate of attendees was 1200 people! We were happily shocked to see such a massive turnout!

G-d was definitely watching over us,  holding back few heavenly sprinkles until it was time to leave,  but surrounding us with the best weather to enjoy the day.

Naples Mayor, Bill Barnett kindled the Giant Ice Menorah; sharing in the fun & festivities, Naples Preschool of the Arts & Chabad of Naples Hebrew School students performed & volunteers manned the many booths where children made Chanukah arts & crafts and of course, enjoyed the many delicious holiday delicacies! 

 The snow, the rides, the food and all the activities brought many compliments and even the ice Menorah hung in there without melting too quickly.

Many thanks to our Naples Police Department and Fire Departments whose presence as always is most welcome.

Thank you to our incredible team of staff, volunteers and sponsors for making this large-scale event possible. And thank YOU to every one who joined us for enhancing our incredible Chanukah festival.

Ettie Zaklos and I feel so blessed to be a part of the Naples community and are so excited to see how our festival has grown over the years to the huge event we all enjoyed yesterday evening.

 ****

It has been a whirlwind week for the Jewish community. We've witnessed the worst possible hate and the most inspiring love. We experienced vicious antisemitic attacks and we responded with an outpouring of unity, solidarity and concern.

We are all now asking the obvious question: "Is this the new normal?" 

While we don't have a definite answer to that question, we Jews are very well primed in how to respond. Aside from the obvious need for extra security and vigilance we must also send a strong message: Anti-Semites and hate filled people will never dictate or define who we are as Jews, or how we practice our Judaism.

We are Jews and we are proud! If we hide that fact, and cower in fear, then they have won the battle! 

We must not let them be victorious. Ironically, the very story of Chanukah demonstrates this message. The Jews refused to let the Greeks dictate their Judaism. They fought back against the tyranny. We need to increase in our Jewish pride at this time and never retreat! 

Here are a few ideas:

1. Get yourself a Mezuzah. The mezuzah is the Jewish spiritual security blanket and every Jewish home and business should have one. Please contact me to help you purchase one and have it posted.

2. Educate yourself. Become a more knowledgeable Jew! Buy a Jewish book for yourself or another, as the saying goes "knowledge is power"! (feel free to reach out for suggestions).

3. Go to Shul. Strengthen your Jewish identity and join with community on Shabbat.

May G-d bless us that 2020 be a much better year for Jewish people everywhere.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

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