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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

values that personally inspire me

Dear Friends,

This Saturday night 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.  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 Sunday, I will be joining 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. 

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Personal Growth

Dear Friends,

I hope you had an uplifting and joyous Pesach.

Judaism considers personal growth a lifelong task for each of us, 365 days a year. Nevertheless, each year a period of time is set aside when these efforts become the focus of our attention. This reflects the spiritual significance of Sefirat HaOmer, the forty-nine-day period between Passover and Shavuos.

The Hebrew word Sefirah means "counting". Every night we count one of these forty-nine days. But Sefirah also means "shining". During these forty-nine days, we should endeavor to make our personalities shine.

According to the Kabbalah, we have seven fundamental emotional qualities. These qualities then interrelate, to create a total of forty-nine emotions. The cultivation of our spiritual personalities during the Counting of the Omer involves the refinement of our "emotions", refining our character, eliminating their coarseness and directing them towards goodness and G-dliness.

As we work to upgrade our emotional potential, we prepare ourselves to relive the experience of the giving of the Torah on the upcoming holiday of Shavuot.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

What does Freedom mean in 2021

Each year as the Passover season comes around it brings with it many gifts. Kneidels. Matzah. Spring cleaning. Kvetching about the prices. Mock Seders. Memories. The off-tune uncle ‘singing’ Ma Nishtana. And so much more…

One of the most important gifts it offers us is the spirit and theme of FREEDOM. It is the flavor of the season and rightfully so. Pesach is all about the privilege and responsibility that comes with liberty.

Let’s face it though. Freedom is not exactly the buzz word of 2021. There are many feelings pulsing through the hearts of us all; freedom is not high on that list. With the many restrictions and unknowns of the pandemic, we can argue that we are not living through the freest of times.

Add to that the anxiety many are feeling in this political climate and you are faced with the question: what is the message of Pesach for our time? What does freedom mean in lockdown? What does freedom mean if we cannot sit at the same table as our loved ones? What does freedom mean when we cannot even shake the hands, let alone hug, our friends and family?

Before I continue and offer a somewhat philosophical response, I must pause and allow the heart to talk first: my heart aches for the pain and loneliness that so many are facing for this long time. You are in my heart, and I ask you kindly to carry me in your heart as well. Our hearts beat as one.

Freedom can mean vastly different things based on which word follows it in the sentence.

Exhibit A: Freedom from…

Exhibit B: Freedom to…

Often when we speak of freedom, we mean ‘freedom from’. From tyranny. From rules. From anything I don’t want to be enslaved to.

Freedom to is not about where I am leaving, but where I am going. Rather than looking back at where I am leaving, I am looking forward to where I wish to be.

It is the second freedom which is never taken away from the human being. No matter our circumstances we are given the total freedom to choose our attitude, our perspective, and our behavior.

This Passover season reminds us that we alone can decide whether to choose freedom or not. We can choose to embrace optimism. Hope. Faith. Love. Empathy. Reflection. Joy. Peace. Forgiveness.

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells the Jewish people “choose life!” You might ask, “but isn’t that the obvious choice?” Not really. Choosing ‘life’ is more than just choosing to live. It is about choosing to ‘have a life’ – a life of freedom. That is a big choice to make.

Life and freedom are synonyms. Choosing freedom is choosing life. 

At the same time, we continue to pray for ‘freedom from’ Covid, incivility, pain, hardship, financial struggle, sickness, death, loneliness, war… the list is infinite. But perhaps it is also simply, the freedom we ask G-d for: Next year in Jerusalem. 

As we sit at our Seder table this year, let us remember that freedom is handed to us in gift wrap. Will we open it? 

We wish you and your loved ones a Kosher, Happy, Inspiring (and Healthy!) Passover!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos


Never too young to do a mitzvah!



Never too young to do a mitzvah!

When a call goes out for volunteers to help with a project at Chabad Naples, we are never disappointed both with the quantity and the quality of the people who step forward.

This was the case about two months ago when we heard about the problems people were having trying to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

We began putting together a team to assist anyone who needed help securing an appointment or assistance in getting there.

From the onset many of our dear members led by Bruce and Sue Yankow and Thais Wulkan Alcalay began working tirelessly to help, and still are to this day.

But sometimes help comes from unexpected sources. That’s when one of our Hebrew School students, young Tori Fuchs volunteered.

When Tori heard about this endeavor a few weeks ago, she told me she is handy with computers and she wanted to help with securing appointments as well, and that she would do everything she could to get them.

We divvied the lists of people and for a few weeks she has been working non-stop to make as many appointments as possible, taking on one group after another.

This week when I met her at Hebrew school, I thanked her as I have received many calls from people, grateful for what she has accomplished on their behalf. When I asked Tori how it was going, she said she was “tired but I am so happy to do it”. She wakes up early, when the enrollment begins online, and gets working on it.

We are so proud of our Hebrew school student Tori for taking this on! What a thoughtful mitzvah project, preceding her Bat Mitzvah, and how amazing to take the initiative to be help and think of others!

We said that we couldn't guarantee success but thank G-d we have been able to help almost everyone who reached out to us, to get the vaccine.

We are so grateful for our success and wish to thank all those who gave their time and energy, helping us to help others.

If you know someone that still needs help, please let us know, and either Tori or others will call you and help get it done. In general, if you know someone who needs help in some way, please contact us: we are here to help at Chabad Naples.




by Rabbi Fishel Zaklos

"These are times that try men's souls," said Thomas Paine. This past year has tried our souls. We have been tested in ways we never thought possible. We've seen and endured so much suffering and pain.How does one deal with the intensity of emotions and challenges of these times?There are three ways:



Empathy.These three words describe different attitudes one might apply when reacting to the feelings, challenges, pain and loss suffered by our fellow human beings. Each is quite different from the other. 

Apathy: I don’t see you. I don’t care.

Sympathy: Poor you. I see you. You are such a nebbish, a wimp - I’ll help you out of the kindness of my heart. I'll ask how you're doing, but I really don't want to know. I have much to tell you, but there's nothing I want to hear from you.

Empathy: I see you as a human being. I see you as a child of the Creator. I see you. I hear you. Tell me about yourself. What can I do for you? I have so much to learn from you.We can all agree that no one admires apathy as a moral and aspirational ethos.Sympathy, however, is ambiguous. It sounds great but it puts people on various rungs of the ladder, where have-nots seem ‘lesser’ than those who have. We look at one another vertically rather than horizontally.

Let’s look at the standard-bearer of Jewish leadership: Moses our teacher - Moshe Rabeinu, the famous fellow from the Exodus story. What did G-d see in Moses, making him worthy of leading the Hebrews out of Egypt? What X-Factor made him stand taller than other leaders of the time? His empathy. When he looked at people he saw a reflection of himself. Their social status did not matter, he loved them. His loving attitude also showed in his original occupation as a shepherd of his father-in-law’s flock.

The Talmud tells us G-d was so impressed with his kindness that He felt confident to entrust Moses with the historical task of leading the people into freedom. He was a נושא בעול עם חבירו He walked among the people with their challenges, helping them carry their load.

Moses was truly kind. True kindness is a child of empathy. To give with one’s whole heart is only possible when one does not see the person who lacks as any less than oneself. The homeless beggar, the addict, the person with disabilities is no less human than oneself. They are beautiful and worthy of dignity and respect.

We are all God’s children, deserving of empathy, deserving to be seen and heard.

Does that mean we have to take on the pain of almost 8 billion people? That is simply not possible. Developing empathy is not about saving the world (an overused cliché); rather, it is about how we interact with our family, friends, and community. We lean into our relationships with those close to us, and the ripple effect spreads far beyond ourselves.

Here in Collier County I am truly blessed to be living in an amazing community! This area is so filled with generosity and goodness.

Wherever I look there is so much empathy! Our shared struggle has brought us closer together, and we have learned to lean on one another.

It is this perseverance and unity that gives me faith that 2021 will be happier and brighter, because we will make it so!


Rebbitzin Ettie shares personal thoughts in response

Sharing some personal thoughts that Rebbitzin Ettie shared with our preschool families in response to the shock and sadness we witnessed this past week...

I know that many have been shaken by current events this week. Whenever disturbing events occur in the public sphere, I find comfort in the reminder that our work here at Preschool of the Arts is to raise the next generation. Our goal in everything we do is to educate our children to grow as learners so that they can one day be thoughtful and engaged citizens. We place a heavy emphasis on character development and deeply engage in developing our children’s social-emotional skills from the youngest age.

Today, as with every Friday, I visited a few of our classes to lead the children in a special Shabbat celebration. During this time, we always include lessons and traditions related to Jewish values. This week, we learned all about the Mitzvah of Tzedakah – charity. In Jewish tradition, Tzedakah is actually translated as justice, fairness. Giving to others is not only an act of good will but it's the right thing to do and makes the world a better place. We had fun plunking pennies into the Tzedakah box and singing songs about helping others. When we really broke the concept down into relevant examples for the children – how can we be fair? How can we help others in need? What does sharing look like? – the children responded with inspiring feedback and ideas on how they can be kind and giving in their own lives.

Every day in the classroom, our teachers are instilling values of kindness, compassion, and respect. When I see the children sharing swings on the playground, mediating small conflicts at the Peace Table, and singing and laughing with their friends, I think that the world might be a better place if it looked a little more like our POTA community. I am strengthened by our vital work in education, confident in the knowledge that the only way to impact the world at large is by educating one child at a time

Shabbat Shalom!❤️

Ettie Zaklos 








Just look at the word Thanksgiving. Part of it is about ’thanks’ and the other part about ‘giving’. Let’s keep that in mind.

Although we should never need to set aside a special day to be thankful for all of our blessings, this should be even more evident on Thanksgiving this year. 

As we are well aware, our celebrations this year will have a somewhat different look.

Let us be grateful for whatever blessings we have, great and small. 

Tomorrow, we’ll read how our Patriarch Jacob had to flee his murderous brother Esau.  On the run, but trusting G-d, Jacob makes a vow: If I can make it, survive and thrive, I’ll remember Your kindness. I won’t take it for granted, assuming my smarts and know-how got me through. I’ll appreciate. I’ll give back to You, G-d. I’ll give back to You by giving to my community. I’ll acknowledge my blessings from You by committing to improving the world through community.

While every day should be devoted to giving thanks, there’s something beautiful in society choosing a day to emphasize it. As we approach this national holiday of Thanksgiving, as we think about the things in our lives for which we are grateful, we feel especially blessed and grateful to be part of a wonderful community, here in Naples, FL. In these times of hardship and difficulty for so many we feel grateful for all the blessings in our life we might have otherwise taken for granted.  

This is an opportune time then, to express our gratitude for all the great friends that make up the wonderful Chabad of Naples & Preschool of the Arts community. 

As we share in this spirit, we are thankful for your support, your friendship and enabling our important work at Chabad Naples & Preschool of the Arts. 

We are grateful to you today and every day.

That is the ’thanks' part.  Now for the ‘giving’.

Let’s share those blessings by reaching out to others with a few words, to let them know we don’t need special days to think about them. 

In the days leading up to the Thanksgiving and in those following it, don’t forget to think of others, and to let them know you care. And let us hope and pray together for a quick return to a healthy world of love and light. 

May we all continue to share our blessings with others and be there to support each other as an expression of our gratitude. 

Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 



 Love habad.jpg


After the Hebrew School students left today, Morah Kathy Cohen was picking up items from the table when she found this napkin from one of her 8-year old students who wrote it after she finished her assignment early.

I was so moved by this child’s writing, recognizing this is what it’s all about: love and light and making sure the students and everyone with whom we have contact feel they have a home.

We need this, just to say "I love you too” to others.

Sometimes, in the midst of darkness, and uncertainty, a bright light appears. These true little vignettes restore our hope and faith.

I hope Giuliana’s message touches you as well.

Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles:

1.            Our protocol and policies are reviewed by doctors and by rabbis who are experts in Jewish law application. (Jewish law mandates our strict adherence to medical authority as an utmost priority.)

2.            Everything is subject to change, as circumstances change. We're keeping a close eye and we will modify our protocol accordingly.

3.            Do what you feel is best for you - consult with your doctor as to the best way forward for your personal situation. And let's respect the rights of others to think and act differently during this time. 

Click here for a description of the changes made in the center to ensure that we are all protected against the spread of COVID-19. Also outlined, is the code of behavior expected from those participating in services. 

Capacity is limited and it is open by pre-registration only. If you would like to attend, please email ([email protected]) and you will receive a confirmation email. Unfortunately, it is not possible at this time to attend services without pre-registering. 

The most stringent guidelines will not completely obviate all risk that remains present. Therefore, anyone over 65 and/or someone who is more vulnerable to the virus due to an underlying health condition, is asked to carefully consider this reality and consult with their personal physician, before attending services. 

We know these are uncertain and challenging times. While this email is welcome news for some, for others who either are unable to attend or who feel it remains unsafe to attend Shul at this time, it doesn't represent a significant change. We miss you, care about you, and can't wait to be together with you again.
Most importantly, we pray to Hashem to send a speedy recovery to all who are affected, to keep all of us healthy, and to protect our modern heroes who are helping our community and country during these difficult times - including healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, postal workers, delivery drivers, and so many more people.       

Thank you in advance for your cooperation. We have no doubt that together, we will adapt well to this challenging time and, please G-d, emerge stronger as individuals and as a community.     

With much love and blessings,  

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Arthur Seigel M.D.   

How do we achieve true happiness?

Dear Friends,

This evening the festival of Sukkot begins. It is a time of joy and celebration. How do we achieve true happiness?

To be really happy means to have a sense of purpose and achievement. Happiness comes with clarity of direction from within and the ability to give meaning to every situation and experience.

Sukkot teaches us happiness. On this holiday, we don't celebrate by sitting in a fancy hall with crystal chandeliers and beautifully adorned tables. Instead, we eat in a flimsy hut that can hardly last more than seven days. It is in this simple hut that we find true happiness.

Coming from Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we have discovered a new focus. We have recommitted ourselves to a life of meaning and purpose. With this refreshed perspective on life and its mission, we can truly celebrate even in a simple hut.

Shabbat Shalom and Gut Yontif with Love & Light,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 


Definitely a Rosh Hashanah for the books! 

After everything we've been through together these past few months it was comforting, heartwarming, and inspiring to celebrate Rosh Hashanah filled with thanksgiving and prayers for those who are in need of blessings for any and all situations they may be enduring. 

One of the thoughtful notes from our Chabad of Naples family members sums up our Rosh Hashanah well:

"Thank you for taking the long walk to give us the privilege to hear the shofar blasts commemorating the call from Hashem. It was a joyous occasion during these difficult times. 

Also, to see the amazing faces of the children made this event even more memorable."

Abiding by the rules of social distancing and other strict precautions, we comfortably held abbreviated indoor Rosh Hashanah services that was well attended.

Attendance at Cambier Park for the shofar event peaked at 100 people who all seemed to enjoy seeing each other, albeit from a distance, and hearing the familiar blasts of the ram’s horn. Comfortable on their blankets, adults and children alike appreciated the traditional apple cake and stuffed shofars. Blowing the shofar In the park was an especially emotional event as it marked the first time for a big coming together after so many months of being apart.

A good sized crowd participated in the Tashlich service we held at Lowdermilk Park. It is always a meaningful way for us to begin the year.

In order to make sure that as many people as possible were able to welcome the new year traditionally, Cantor Choni Teitelbaum and I were privileged to visit many places around Naples to blow the shofar.

We were all thinking of and praying for a better year of good health, peace and contentment for the whole Chabad of Naples family & community.

We wish you all Shana Tova Umetuka, a good and sweet year!


The High Holidays inspire us all differently, but it’s a universally special time for millions of Jews around the world.


In the past, as we gathered in places of worship to reconnect to ourselves, our Maker, and our fellow human beings, we entered a unique and precious realm.

The High Holidays have a familiar rhythm and a hallowed energy that overtake us as we enter. Each year we step into that spiritual embrace and allow ourselves to be taken on a journey of rebirth and forgiveness.

We are well aware that this year it will be different and quite unlike our regular High Holidays: no big crowds, handshakes, hugging and kissing, no kiddush, no kvetching about the A/C and saved seats. And no dinners with family with debates over chicken or brisket. In short, it’s going to be a much different year.

Does this mean the High Holidays will be sad or empty? Not at all! Different means that we will have to be innovative and “unorthodox” in how we create a transformative experience within our own home.

In 2020, your home is the Shul, and you are the rabbi. I will gladly offer a free course on how to give some great jokes and sleep-inducing sermons!

Have you heard about the rabbi who whispers to his president to please wake up the fellow in the fourth row on the left who was snoring insufferably loudly?

The president whispers back: “Hey Rabbi, you put him to sleep, so why don’t you wake him up?!”

But seriously, this Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will come from within, as we hold our prayer books in our hands at home and try to awaken the inspiration that’s in our hearts.
But you may ask: “Really Rabbi, how can that be? Can I recreate this in my home? I barely know how to read Hebrew, and how am I supposed to inspire myself?”

Our sages have taught us over the millennia that G-d asks of us nothing more than to show up whole-heartedly and to connect. No matter what language you speak or what education you have, I have maintained repeatedly: whatever page you are on is the right page.

G-d understands all languages.

“The Merciful One Asks Only for the Heart!” as long as we show up with love, forgiveness, generosity, warmth, and holistic values then in G-d’s eyes we are priceless. It is a mystery of nature, a beauty to behold and has enough power within to change – not only your own destiny, but also the entire world.

There is an amazing anecdote about a man who says to a wise master or sage,” I don’t believe in G-d.”

The sage answers, “it doesn’t matter, He believes in you.”

And so, dear friends, remember especially this year, G-d believes in you more than you can imagine. During the High Holidays, wherever you find yourself, Hashem will find you.



Sep11  2020 post.jpg 


We all recall September 11 as one of the most terror-filled days written into our history. If we lived through that time, we recall exactly where we were on that day and what we were doing.

At the same time, we recall the endless sacrifices made by first responders and the thousands of innocent lives lost and families irreparably damaged by those events in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

Some of us may also recall how, in the days that followed, for a while the world became a kinder place where patriotic flags flew and strangers smiled at each other in sympathy, shared grief, and understanding.

Let this day remind us to strive for a return to sharing that loving kindness with mankind in better days.

let's all extend our hands in freedom and love for one another with continued mitzvos & blessings today and every day.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 


LET US NOT EVER FORGET 9/11. It's 19 years.


Sep 11111.jpg

Dear Friends,

In some of the darkest days of this century, heroes emerged, bringing light and hope through the ashes. Immediately following the horror of September 11 there was a ‘change’ in the air: people were kinder to each other; American flags flew from cars. We were down, but we weren’t out.

Let us not forget, at this time, the heroism of those who survived; those who saved many others, and those who were either irreparably wounded or lost their lives in order to save the trapped and injured. We stand together in unity and friendship to honor them and all those who lost their lives in this horrible attack.

To this day, we are still fighting the terror and striving to bring the light to as many as possible, and fortunately, to this day, many have retained the ultimate messages of September 11: there is nothing more important than love for and of family. Love for your country and love for one another do not come with a price tag.

So to honor them let's all extend our hands in freedom and love for one another with continued mitzvos & blessings today and every day.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 



Bike ride Finalno belly.jpg


Determined to get some much-needed fresh air and exercise, Yitzi and I dusted off our bikes this afternoon and with great aspirations, headed out for a lengthy ride.


Within a short distance, I began to feel as if something (besides my rusty muscles) was amiss. With my superior mechanical knowledge (big joke here) I deduced thatthe brakes in the back were practically touching the tire and as a result it was very difficult for me to ride.

I had to work extra hard and surely it wasn’t good for the bike either. We continued for a short distance before coming to a halt.

Now anyone who knows me is aware that I don’t own a tool, and if I did, I wouldn’t know what to do with it! For the life of me I cant fix anything. I have tried many times for the love of Ettie in the house, but at a certain point I am just not capable.

We had no tools with us and even if we returned home it wouldn’t have helped.

Looking for assistance, we stopped at a gas station and they couldn't help. Then we drove a little farther and we saw a Comcast truck. Grabbing my mask, I asked the technician if by chance he had something/anything like pliers to help.

This gentleman who said his name (but I couldn't hear clearly behind his mask -Frank?) said of course, and after spending a minute, sent Yitzi and me on to a great bike ride.

I felt as if I were gliding, where before I was stuck.

There is an obvious message here: a little help goes a long way when you are feeling stuck, whether it comes in the form of a little help, a smile, or the loan of a pair of pliers.

Take the time to lift someone up and send them gliding on their way.



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