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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Happiness is right here

Dear Friends,

A priest, a minister, and a rabbi walk into a bar...

Have you ever heard the beginning of a joke, listened carefully as the drama unfolded, and then right before the end, the teller stops the joke? Pretty frustrating, no? You got hooked in, carried away, excited, in suspense, and then... where's the punchline? 

Well, over the last few weeks, you prayed, you fasted, you ate in a Sukkah, you did the shake... and now it's time to celebrate! You see, the entire season of Holidays is a series of steps leading to the climax, Simchat Torah, when we celebrate the intrinsic value and our core-connection to Torah and to G-d

Join us on Monday evening October 21, 6:45pm  for Hakafot, dancing,
delicious foods, buffet and L'chayim!

Dancing and rejoicing with the Torah is specifically done when the Torah is closed. When the Torah is opened to be read, we each find ourselves at a very different level that displays our own personal understanding and connection to the Torah. When the Torah is closed however, there is only one way to comprehend the beauty of G-d's gift to His beloved people, and in this, we are all equal. The celebration will not be complete without you! Bring friends and the entire family!

Simchat Torah also reminds 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 come home from work, you see your wife anew, as though it was your wedding day. You see your children anew, like the day they were born.

Join with your whole family on Monday night for Simchas Torah Live. Buffet Dinner; Torah's & Treats for the Children;
Memories that will last a lifetime; All are welcome - No charge
Wishing you a truly joyous Chag Sameach!

 Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

 

 

Do we see the challenge as a nightingale....or lunch?

Dear Friends,  
 
It was amazing spending such a meaningful and inspiring Rosh Hashanah with over 400 friends. We hope you found the services inspiring and uplifting.

This is what Chabad of Naples is all about: A place that offers an open door, an open mind and an open heart to each and everyone who walks through our doors, regardless of their level of religious knowledge or observance.
 
Looking forward to seeing you all for Yom Kippur Services!
 
Until then, as we continue to contemplate our actions of the past year in preparation for Yom Kippur, perhaps we can dedicate ourselves to some little improvements  and resolutions just by considering minor changes to how we observe what is around us, by reading this short tale.

A peasant once did a special favor for his beloved King. Wanting to repay the peasant, the king decided to give him a unique gift: a nightingale that sang the sweetest songs a human could hear.
 
A short while later, the king summoned the peasant and asked how he was enjoying the gift.
 
The peasant answered, "In truth, your Majesty, the meat was a little tough, but it tasted okay in a stew with potatoes."
 
Life's obstacles and responsibilities are like that bird. The question is:
Do we see the challenge as a nightingale....or lunch?
 
As we look inward on Yom Kippur, we need to recognize that introspection is a necessary guide to life; but life itself, with all its curveballs, is what is meaningful.
 
Yom Kippur is only one day a year. Shabbat is only one day a week. And we pray for a limited time every day.
 
That’s the dream.
 
The rest is life.
 
Dealing with life is where our Torah values come into play. We need to recognize our nightingales.
 
And let them sing.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos


 

 

We treasure your friendship

Dear Friends,  

This week’s Torah portion, Nitzavim, is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah.

The name Nitzavim is from the portion’s opening verse, where Moses reminds the Jewish people that they are “standing before G-d today.”

The commentators explain that "today" could also be a reference to the day of Rosh Hashanah, when we all stand before G-d.

No matter your affiliation, the High Holiday season is a time for all Jews to show up. G-d welcomes everyone in; all we need to do is show up, to stand before G-d and say, “Here I am!”

It is an opportunity for introspection and inspiration. But the first step of that is to come through the door. Be present and the rest will come. We look forward to count you among us.  

Each year we strive to conduct meaningful, uplifting services so that everyone will feel at home celebrating with the Chabad family, regardless of his/her knowledge of Hebrew.

Watch the timeless prayer book come alive with heart warming stories, commentary and down to earth applications.

Of course, each service is followed by Kiddush and holiday delicacies.

We treasure your friendship and support throughout the year. In addition to our warmest blessings and wishes for the New Year, we would like to extend this warm and sincere invitation to you and your family.

The Alex & Carol Glassman Chabad Center is open to welcome everyone at any level where he or she feels comfortable. We are always interested in hearing from you and answering any questions you might have.

Do not hesitate to call us for further information or check our website if you have any questions.

Welcome home for the holidays!

May you and yours be inscribed and sealed for a happy, healthy, and sweet year!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

Arthur Seigel, President

Welcome Cantor Sholom, Raizy and Shaina.

Dear Friends,

It’s the countdown to the New Year and it sounds as if our Cantor Sholom Rabin and his family are just as excited as we are about his upcoming visit.

It is obvious from his letter that all of us have made Cantor Rabin feel at home and part of our family, and that the good feelings are mutual. Isn’t it wonderful that he comes to us not to “do a job” but to participate with his wife and daughter as members of our extended family!

I know you will join me in making them welcome once again as only Chabad of Naples can, as we enjoy the musical beauty and glow he brings to our services. Don’t hesitate to suggest favorite songs you would like him to sing.

****

A Letter from your Cantor

My name is Sholom Rabin,

The year has flown by and I am looking forward to once again be hosted, this time with my family for the highlight of my year, by Rabbi Fishel, Ettie Zaklos, and the beautiful Chabad of Naples community to lead your High Holiday services.

Since my ​Bar Mitzvah​ I've had the privilege of leading services at different communities around the world. Of all the centers I have been to Chabad of Naples is my favorite and holds a dear place in my heart! And no, I don’t say that to everyone.

Last year when I arrived, I instantly felt a part of your special Shul. I enjoyed the warm, familial and joyous atmosphere. That's not all, Rabbi Fishel and I share a special connection having both grown up in Detroit.

Despite 13 years of Cantorship, not a day goes by without me gurgling an egg. Nah, I'm just kidding about that, but I have been working with my vocal coach throughout the year and more so before the high holidays to make sure I'm on good vocal form and can reach that high G note.

Rabbi Fishel and I carefully reviewed the ​Davening ​and prepared a great blend of classic and contemporary tunes. We hope you enjoy them.

I invite you to join me in opening your heart and mind, to sing and clap, allowing yourself to feel your soul and be moved. Together our prayers will pierce the gates of heaven!

Please let me know how I did, say hello, suggest a tune, or even share with me what is most impactful to you about Judaism. I look forward to seeing you all and introducing you to my dear wife Raizy and my daughter Shaina.

With heartfelt wishes for a sweet new year.

Shalom,

Sholom!

 

Rosh Hashanah is a happy day

Dear Friends,

Rosh Hashanah is a happy day. It’s a holiday when we celebrate our loving relationship with our Creator and the profoundly meaningful purpose in our creation. We each matter to G-d, because we each have something very special to bring to the world. That’s something to soak in and celebrate.

At the same time, Rosh Hashanah is a time for thoughtful introspection; a time to consider the gap between the potential beauty in our lives and the actual. It’s a time to think about how much closer we can feel to our Creator - all year round - and how much more we can do to find the purpose in our existence.

That may be sobering, but it should also be empowering.  

Rosh Hashanah is just around the corner. Stop in to services. Take some time to close your eyes and think, and to contemplate some of the liturgy. Grab life by the horns and seriously consider who you’re not [yet]. It’s a time for growth, and G-d is cheering you on.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

A loyal partner of Chabad of Naples, our reliable Shofar blower, a treasured friend

Gil .jpg

With deep sorrow we mourn the sudden passing of Gil Block, Gershon ben Zelig, yesterday.

A loyal partner of Chabad of Naples, our reliable Shofar blower, a treasured friend, and a very sweet person: he is sorely missed. A true special light and beautiful soul has departed, and the entire Naples community has lost a gem of a person.

Gil had told me he expected to return from a visit with his children to celebrate the High Holidays with us, and how he was looking forward to blowing the Shofar. However, he became ill and passed away.

 

I am happy that I had an opportunity to speak with him a few days ago, and to tell him how much we loved him. When his wife Diane said he might not return for the High Holidays, I told him we would miss him but looked forward to his coming back to Chabad Naples.

Two days ago Gil's daughter mentioned to me that he really was not doing well. So I called my dear friend and colleague Rabbi Levi Potasch, who is the Chabad rabbi there, to go and pray with him and send him my love and give him a hug.

He went there and he put on tefillin with Gil, spoke Yiddish with him, prayed with him, and then put the shofar by his lips and Gil smiled beautifully.

Gil was such a sweet soul. We had an amazing relationship. Every Shabbat together was special, and he uplifted us all with his warmth. He always had something special to say and always showered praise upon our work. He loved what we did and we loved him back. He was also involved in so many other interests such as the Jewish war veterans and a host of other organizations in our community.

This Rosh Hashanah will be even more powerful than usual, as Gil will be blowing the Shofar from on high. He will be with us as he always was. He was such a man amazing and beautiful person. And his last words to me were, “ I love you”.

We mourn and express our deepest condolences to his wife Diane, his daughter Susie, and his son.

May the Block family & our community only know of Simchas.

Funeral services will be held on Sunday at 1 PM at Beth Shalom cemetery - 1501 Anderson Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15209. There will be a Maariv service Tuesday night at Chabad Naples at 7:00 pm as we honor this special human being in the Chabad Naples that he called home.

 

THE PATH TO HOPE

THE PATH TO HOPE

The great Jewish comedian Sam Levenson,  describing his family’s Jewish American experience said,  “My folks were immigrants who bought the legend that American streets were paved with gold. When my father arrived he discovered three things: 

 1.   The streets were not paved with gold.

2.   The streets were not even paved!

3.   He was the one expected to do the  paving!”

This is a timely metaphor for our emotional development. In youth’s hopeful dawn, we feel noble stirrings within and dream of realizing them on a global scale. And yet,  so often as the years tick by, dreams slip away and we fall into the abyss of mediocrity where the temptation may be  just to give up. As 19th century philosopher Thoreau once observed, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

There comes a time of honest self-reckoning, possibly your very own ‘Aha moment', when we must take stock of unfulfilled dreams and realize that we don’t have to give up. Hard work is required to live life to its maximum potential, by  improving and “paving” our spiritual and physical well-being.

I believe this truth is reflected in the daily blasts of the shofar, that we blow in preparation for Rosh Hashanah which occurs later this month.

Several centuries ago, the renowned Rabbi Horowitz (known as the ‘Shelah'), once brilliantly explained how the sound of the Shofar is a parable of life:  The Shofar blasts begin and end with a tekiah — a whole note, yet in between are the shevarim and teruah — broken notes.

 We are gifted at birth with magnificent potential. Along the winding path of life, via mistakes, weakness, pain, failure and more, we may become shevarim, (temporarily) broken. Yet, we can spiritually become whole again and commit to self-improvement.

During the month of Elul, the shofar acts as our spiritual alarm clock. We wake up! Step up! And increase our number of mitzvot each day. You, and you alone, hold the power to shape your life’s path with a destiny to “pave” and build a beautiful road ahead.

Was it just one week ago that we were  anxiously waiting for details about the  hurricane’s track?  It was a wake up call, and  what is most important is while we were spared,  there are so many people who were not. Many of the small islands  in the Bahamas have been devastated and sadly, many lives lost.  We pray for everyone there and in the eastern US who has suffered injury, loss of life and property.  Their days ahead will require help, strength, and faith.

Chabad Naples & Preschool of the Arts would also like to contribute to these relief efforts, without overlapping with the many organizations doing such meaningful work here in Naples and in the Bahamas www.jewishbahamas.com/relief2. While basic necessities are needed immediately, we would like to help some of those who lost everything in the longer term. As a special Mitzvah Project, Preschool of the Arts is organizing a toy drive, where we will be donating toys to those most affected by Hurricane Dorian. We will begin collecting toys within the next few weeks until the holiday season, during which we will gift these toys to children in need. We believe this effort will resonate well with our young students, who will learn the importance of helping other children. Toys are a medium that transcends differences, and we hope our children will be excited to participate in this project that will get toys into the hands of children who don't have any. Stay tuned for more details as we roll out this initiative. If any parents would like to volunteer to helping organize in this effort, we would greatly appreciate it.

Wishing you all month filled with strength and meaning.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

COMFORT IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD

Dear Friends,

As the Hebrew month of Tishrei approaches, with many important holidays, it’s a good time to reflect on how our faith offers a safe, secure haven from stormy days in a chaotic, tumultuous world. In light of recent news, let us ponder deeper aspects of the High Holidays, as we automatically turn towards spirituality and seeking answers and purpose when life feels uncertain and threatening.

Rosh Hashanah is the head of the year, and yet we often find ourselves walking into the synagogue disoriented by the chaos in the world and the challenges in our personal lives. However, Rosh Hashanah is essentially about reflecting on our relationship with G-d, and His caring, loving presence.  Many of us have an unfortunate image of G-d as a powerful, stern man in the sky with a large stick.  This can intimidate us from connecting with Him as that compassionate, caring presence, or connecting with Him at all. As a Chassidic master once told a self-proclaimed atheist, "The G-d that you don't believe in, I don't believe in either. “

A question to reflect on: what was my perception of G-d in my childhood, and has this perception changed?

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement and yet, G-d asks us to do something before making amends with Him: to make amends with our family and friends. When He sees that we are “loving whom your Beloved loves,” he is especially open to our prayers and requests.  After we have asked forgiveness from the people in our lives, we turn to G-d and acknowledge where we have fallen short this past year and commit to doing better in the year ahead. It is in this spirit of honesty and vulnerability that we can culminate Yom Kippur day with the holiest moments of the entire year, in an intense, intimate oneness with G-d in the Neilah Prayer. Perhaps before asking G-d for forgiveness, we need to forgive ourselves. Often, we are our harshest critics. We forget that making mistakes is part of what makes us human. G-d isn’t happy when His children aren’t treated kindly. You are one of G-d's children. We need to practice kindness within ourselves.

Some questions to reflect on: which friends and family do I need to make amends to? What character defects do I need to talk to G-d about?

Sukkot is that glorious season when we eat in a hut outdoors, surrounded by

G-d's bounty.  As we commemorate G-d's clouds of protection to the Jews in the Sinai desert, on all six sides, we affirm that then, and now, our security comes from more than stocks and bonds and solid roofs over our heads: it comes from G-d's will,  from His goodness. It is disconcerting and anxiety-provoking to face the fact that there are no guarantees in life, especially in today’s uncertain world. That's why we rejoice in our relationship with G-d-- we acknowledge that ultimately there is no reason to be afraid, because G-d is our ultimate provider, protector, and constant presence.

On Simchat Torah (the day immediately following Sukkot) we dance with the Torah closed. If we opened it, some might feel inadequate or intimidated by others who are more familiar with the text. The learning and doing can and must come later, for on this day, we all just rejoice that this gift of truth belongs to everyone, not simply to the Rabbi or the Rebbetzin or the learned scholars:  it belongs equally to every single Jew.

Some questions to reflect on: how have I made ideas, material things, and acquisitions my sense of true (or only) security? How can I make rejoicing in G-d's protection and presence a daily act of affirmation and gratitude?

A lasting high and real security don’t come from a promotion, social media, a new car, or a glass of wine. They're certainly wonderful to savor in the moment (and become meaningful when used in meaningful ways, as with family, or for G-d), but in and of themselves they don't spiritually sustain us.

This season is called the High Holidays because of the truly elevated, lasting purpose they give us, not for the promise of adrenaline rushes or everlasting bliss.

They give something better and deeper: they give us precious reminders of G-d's presence in our personal life, of His unconditional love for us, of His forgiveness, of His protection, of His guidance, and our ability to act with courage and kindness, tapping into our higher selves. In a world fraught with uncertainties, disappointments and pain, these Highs can serve as the foundation of faith and quiet security that lead to a deeply meaningful year.

With love and blessings,

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos

Let Shoshana be an inspiration!

Survivor.jpg

When the sun sets on Shabbat, August 10, Tisha B’av,  the saddest day the year begins.  This is when we fast and pray and refrain from of regular activities as we recall the destruction of both temples.  As we personally and as a community reflect on  our past pain and suffering, in spite of all that we have endured and experienced, it is amazing that  our faith remains as deep as can be.  One of the core principles in Judaism is the belief  that  better days are ahead:  a world of universal peace, and peace among humanity. 

This  picture which has been circulating  in social media expresses this in a powerful way.  It  is worth sharing,   to  give you strength in your own journey, in the midst of the hate, anti-semitism and negativity. Stand up and be counted!  Let Shoshana be an inspiration!

Be fruitful and multiply!

Words form social media…

“In front of her eyes she watched Mengele taking her mother. Shoshana Obitz herself survived Auschwitz. After the war, she met Dov, who lost his wife and four daughters in the camps. They married and came to Haifa. She worked as a seamstress and helped him run the chicken shop. Shoshana just celebrated her 104th birthday and asked for one gift:  that all her descendants come together to the Western Wall.

Am Yisrael Chai!

LET IT BEGIN WITH US

LET IT BEGIN WITH US

Thinking of the endless families and friends who are grieving their loved ones after these horrific shootings. We condemn them in the strongest terms possible and know that we have an urgent responsibility to do everything in our power to prevent this from ever happening again.

We cannot ignore that we live in troubled times and often a solution cannot be found at our fingertips, so what can we do about it? We can pray and offer comfort and solace to those suffering loss of friends and relatives, and pray for the speedy and complete recovery for the injured. But like so many, we ask ourselves, is that enough? Daily our hearts and minds are tugged to take action against the rampant hate that is circulating in the world. Glib words are quick band-aids that don’t suffice to heal and cure, when we desperately need to exhibit and exercise more love and kindness. As we all know, there are many ways to react to tragedies like these, whether it is emotionally, intellectually, politically, and so on.  

What I know for certain is that in times of such hate, our world desperately needs more love and kindness. let us take courage from the age-old Jewish adage “a little bit of light will dispel a great deal of darkness”. Please join me today in taking action, to combat the darkness by calling a family member, volunteering to help someone, leaving a note of appreciation for people just to touch base, spread comfort, and show you care! We can act by flooding the world with kindness and light. One act of goodness will beget another, one small flicker of light can multiply and hopefully begin to illuminate some of the darkest corners of our world. So let's put politics and arguments aside and take some time to look at each other with eyes wide open and hearts open even wider. It can begin with us

May their memory be for a blessing and may G-d grant strength to their families, friends and communities. And may we, and our elected officials be inspired by the Almighty with the wisdom, strength and humility to take all steps possible to never have to experience such a tragedy again.

With prayers for peace and security,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet?

Summer usually brings travel, and although many of us look forward to the destination, often the process of getting there can be frustrating and tiresome. Sometimes when embarking on a long trip, especially with children, it can be more enjoyable if we make frequent, enjoyable rest stops along the way. Refreshed, we can continue to the destination.

When the Jewish people set out on their journey to freedom, the opening words of the Torah portion say, “And these are the travels”. In reality, it should say “These are the encampments, the stops”, since that is what is being described.

Perhaps the reason is, although we have pauses in life, moments of resting quietly when we try to restore our strength, we still must remain focused on the journey. Angels are described as standing still but we humans are constantly moving and wanting to grow. It is said, life is like riding a bicycle: to keep your balance you need to keep moving.

Soon we will be bidding farewell to summer holidays and in a few weeks, school will begin, and then the high holidays and a new year will arrive. Even if we stop temporarily along the way of our trip through life, we should always keep on aspiring and keep our eyes on the destination.

Some of the precious moments that I enjoyed as a child going to shul were the five times during the year when we completed a book of the Torah and the congregation rose as one, after the Torah reader concluded the book, and we all said, ”Chazak, Chazak, Vinischazek” - Be strong, be strong, and we will be strengthened. We turned to one another and said, “You be strong and together we will strengthen one another.” When we complete the fourth book of the Torah tomorrow, Sefer Bamidbar, we will say, chazak chazak v’nischazeik - - Be strong, be strong, and we will be strengthened

Let us strengthen the course of our lives and encourage one another to keep moving forward. You may recall that we also shared these words when we completed our Unity Torah. Here is Yitzi saying those words.

This Shabbat let’s come together and strengthen each other. Wherever you are, with whomever you share this Shabbat, don’t forget your destination in life: rise and move forward towards your goals, inspiring, growing, and strengthening those around you to enjoy the pauses but not to forget to keep moving toward the destination.

Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

"Follow the leader!"

FOLLOW THE LEADER!

In this week's Torah portion, Moses requests of G-d that a successor should be appointed to lead the people after he passes away.  His student Yehoshua is chosen.

When describing Yehoshua’s qualities, neither his intellectual capabilities nor his powerful personality, or even his righteousness is emphasized.  He is described in a few words as “a man with souls in him”.  The commentaries say that it means that he had a unique way of interacting and connecting with every type of individual.

A real leader is not one who regards himself higher or better than others, but one who truly cares for each person and guides each one according to his or her needs.

Sometimes it's a video that's worth a thousand words. So grateful for this video I received recently, capturing this precious encounter.

Sometimes it’s a video that’s worth a thousand words, and I am truly grateful for receiving this video a few days ago.  The Rebbe assigned slots of  time which  he reserved to meet with people, to distribute to  thousands of Jews and non-Jews alike,  dollars intended to be given to charity.   It captures a precious encounter with the Rebbe:  the second adult in the video is my father, followed by my brother Chaim,  then my brother Yossi who just had his Bar Mitzvah,  and then me. All of us are receiving dollars from the Rebbe's holy hand. He cared for each person equally, never showing preference. 

This was the Jewish ideal of two people interacting with the intention to help a third. 

May we never lose sight of this goal.

"Follow the leader!"

Always take a step back

Parshah teaching: When Bilaam was unsuccessful with cursing the Jews, king Balak took him to a different mountain, where he could see only some - but not all - of the Jewish camp.

Why would that vantage point be more conducive to cursing the Jewish people?

Because when you choose to only see a part of the nation, you can always find faults and be negative. But if you choose to see the Jewish people as a whole, you're sure to see its overall beauty and splendor.

And the same goes with how we choose to view other individuals.

Always take a step back, take in the whole picture, and you'll see goodness and beauty everywhere.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

We each also have our own internal ‘sun’: The soul.

Dear Friends, 

What a powerful weekend, filled to the brim with inspiration and encouragement, joining tens of thousands of visitors in NY as we prayed at 770, Chabad Headquarters, and visited the Rebbe's gravesite.

It's difficult to believe that 25 years have come and gone since the Rebbe's passing. And yet, a quarter of a century has not diminished the Rebbe's impact, the Rebbe's teachings, the Rebbe's light. The Rebbe's light and influence has only grown stronger, reflected in the thousands of Chabad Centers that have been established after his passing, and the tens of thousands, if not millions,  that have been touched by the Rebbe's teachings and philosophy.

Summer is a time of increased light and warmth; we have longer daylight hours, and higher temperatures. In other words, summer is a time when the sun is in fuller glory and effect.

That’s summer in ‘macro’; but this also applies to each of us in ‘micro’.

In a way, we each have our own internal seasons. We each also have our own internal ‘sun’: The soul.

There are times when we go through an internal winter, when our moral vision and priorities don’t express their full light into our daily lives. There are times when conscience and values are in relative hibernation, when the spirit is cold, and moral growth seems a part of the distant past.

Then there’s summer. Summer is about letting our internal sun shine. Summer is about feeling our own internal capacity for spirituality and warmth, a capacity that might recede in the face of a hectic schedule.  

So if we’re able to relax a bit from the everyday stresses and ‘get away’, then we need to use that to synchronize ourselves with nature; we need to create our own internal summer by increasing the light and warmth in our life.

We each have valuable relationships - with loved ones, with our community and with our G-d – and relationships need nurturing. So if you’re running on fewer cylinders this summer, and have some extra space in your brain and heart, those relationships could probably use some extra warmth.
You have an internal sun. Let it shine.
Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light and lots of sun:-)


 

values that personally inspire me

Dear Friends,

Tonight we begin to commemorate the 25th year of the Rebbe’s passing.  Since he did not name anyone to inherit his position, many wondered and worried about the future of Chabad.  In the ensuing years, Chabad’s exponential growth have proved those concerns to be insignificant.  Not only has his yahrzeit become a celebration of his life, but it is also about reflecting on and practicing  the beliefs that he stood for and cherished.  From the heart, I personally thank the  Rebbe for giving and instilling in me these ideas and life values which both Ettie and I try to live with and strive to pass to our children.

Here are just a few of the Rebbe’s values that personally inspire me, that really capture his legacy as a leader and mentor for all humanity.

1.       Look at the world in a positive way.  If you look through shattered lenses, that’s what you will see.  If you choose to see the world as a garden, you  will see the goodness that blossoms all around.  It’s amazing how the Rebbe was no stranger to pain and suffering, having lost family members to the Holocaust and having seen the terror of world War 2, and yet the Rebbe chose to see what was positive in the world. His constant reminders to be upbeat and see things in this way.  Even when stories in the Torah seem locked in negativity, the Rebbe found a positive, uplifting perspective.  

2.       Everyone has a powerful mission. The Rebbe would say that birth is G-d's way of saying you matter.  If we are here, we are here to make the world a better place.  No two people are the same.  Each one is irreplaceable and therefore there is no excuse:  you must stand up and be counted.

3.       The Rebbe encouraged women to take leadership roles in establishing and operating Chabad centers.  More than any other Jewish leader, the Rebbe empowered the women, strengthening the partnership between husband and wife in this mission. I think about this so often as Rebbitzin Ettie partners with me in this endeavor. From the ground up, we always planned together in every single way, especially in establishing the incredible preschool.

4.       Create leaders not followers. The Rebbe certainly wanted us to be humble, but wanted leaders who would implement the same vision and ideals but would use their own brand of creativity and inspiration.  Each Chabad center you enter, while it mirrors the vision, will have its own personal flavor  and its own areas of focus tailored to serve within its community.

5.       This is a big lesson for today's world:  the Rebbe implored us to regard other human beings not just as beings but as souls.  If we focus on what makes us the same, the divine that’s within us, we stop allowing the differences to divide us.  The Rebbe embraced each individual unconditionally.  In today's world of division, more than ever we need attitudes that are  non-judgmental  and accepting .

6.  On this 4th of July, I remember the Rebbe's constant gratitude to America as a kind country where liberty and opportunity reigned, a country where we can live proudly as Jews connected to one another and connected to G-d.

Thank you Rebbe for infusing such a powerful purpose in my life and the lives of countless others.  I am so grateful to be able to share your vision and philosophies here at Chabad of Naples where daily we endeavor to feel and share this sense of love and fellowship under an umbrella of our Jewish faith and culture.

This weekend, I will be joining an expected crowd of 75,000 people from across the globe who will gather to pay respects at the Rebbe's ohel resting place. It would be my honor to include you and your loved ones in my prayers on this day.  Please email me your name.

This Shabbos, wherever you are in the world, let's take a few moments with family or friends to learn some of the Rebbe's teachings, discuss the Rebbe's life and vision, and rededicate ourselves to the the values and causes that are close to our souls.

 In my absence on Shabbat, Rabbi Choni will lead the services,  and thank you to Clement Soffer for sponsoring the Kiddush.  Clement will also speak at the Kiddush about the essence of the menorah and how we can all be a beacon of light on this planet. Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

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