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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

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


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

What a day! What a crowd!

A Wonderful Wonderland

Dear Friends,     



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


Make sure your candle is lit.

Are you ready for Chanukah?

Chanukah seems simple enough: We light the Menorah, eat some latkes and play some Dreidel; then add gifts and a family get-together to round off your Holiday.

Actually, it’s much richer, and more complex, than that simple equation.

On Chanukah we light the menorah specifically after it is dark outside. The point is to bring light to the darkest places of our lives. Instead of ignoring them, denying them or running away from them, we are tasked with changing them.

The easiest way to transform darkness is to add light. On Chanukah we are given an extra does of light from above to make miracles happen and we are given an extra dose of courage to venture into those places of paralyzing darkness and fear.

Let's all take advantage of the moment. Make sure your candle is lit.

We want to personally wish each and every one of you a Chanukah and holiday season filled with friendship and traditions. May the warmth and glow of each candle make your heart and home happy and bright. We are so lucky to have you in our community! 

Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos



Thank you for being a part of our family

Thank you for being a part of our family. 

Dear Friends, Family, and extended Naples Chabad Family:

You all know the expression, that one can choose his friends but not his family? Well, after a weekend like the one that just passed, we feel as if we chose both, and we wouldn’t have it any other way! In our case, the friends who chose us have become part of our treasured family. We are so blessed to have been surrounded by such an outpouring of love and good wishes on behalf of our dear daughter Chaya’s simchah. 
Ettie and I share such a sense of heartfelt gratitude for all who attended and rejoiced at Shabbat services with us, showering us with their good wishes and honoring Chaya.   

Again, on Sunday, the community came together to join in our simchah as a family.  As parents, we shared an overwhelming experience, watching our daughter blossom into the beginnings of womanhood with such confidence, grace and poise, while cognizant of a sense of duty and responsibility to the community at large.  Chaya has demonstrated an unusually sensitive response to the plight of others while exhibiting healthy common sense and retaining her warm sense of humor. She truly lived up to her new identity as a daughter of the mitzvot, spreading light and kindness throughout this whole weekend.

Celebrating with all of you this past weekend, it was clear that our nachas was your nachas, and our joy was your joy.

What greater gift of connection could Ettie and I hope for?

We only pray that we can reciprocate and share in your joyous moments together with you.

Thank you for being a part of our family. 

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 




With prayers for peace and security

As we celebrate Shabbat tonight, let us not forget about our brothers and sisters in New Jersey, reeling from the heart-wrenching shooting in Jersey City.

Our aching hearts are with the families of all the victims, especially the young orphans. We pray for the complete and quick recovery of those wounded.

Following an investigation, police believe the Jewish market, was the target. Anti-Semitism rises - there may be a lull, but it is inevitably re-launched again and again and again. This time at a Kosher supermarket in Jersey City.

The hearts of every single member of our Chabad Naples Family are united with the loved ones of the generous, gentle and precious souls who have tragically passed.

Let's be sure to honor their precious souls and connect with our community and family; hug them, spend some more time with them, and affirm to the world and affirm to ourselves that we are stronger and more united than ever. This Shabbat do something you may have not ordinarily done, to demonstrate your Jewish pride.

We take so much for granted, depending on our brave law enforcement men and women everywhere, who leave their homes and families to "do a job" each day, never knowing which pillow their heads will touch that night. We pray for their safety.

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.

Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light,


We must remember to give our gratitude an address

Dear Friends,

You know that experience of feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessings that surround you? We hope and pray that all of us have that experience often- and ideally, actively create that experience by savoring our blessings every day.

But there are some moments in time that stick out; that dazzle us with their beauty and their richness.

This weekend is turning into one of those moments as Ettie and I feel full of gratitude to be celebrating our dear daughter Chaya's bat mitzvah this Sunday.

We are taught that each Torah portion holds a spiritual lesson that is relevant for all times, and this week is certainly no exception!

In this upcoming Torah portion of Vayishlach, Jacob, who is overwhelmed by G-d's loving protection to him in a time of distress, and the blessings of a loving family, tells G-d, "Katonti, I have become (humbled) small from all the kindnesses!"

Indeed we are humbly grateful to be at this beautiful milestone, celebrating our dear Chaya's transformation into a young Jewish woman.

It humbles me to see this extraordinary girl, born and bred here in Naples, carry herself with such dignity and grace and pride.

And feeling so grateful to our beautiful community who has watched her grow alongside us- it does take a village.

So indeed, we, too, are small before G-d, and we thank Him for the blessings of family, and our dear friends who have become our family.

Like Jacob, we must remember to give our gratitude an address- to the Giver of all that is good.

What truly makes a simcha complete, is the ability to share it with family and friends. This is a precious gift that cannot be overestimated.  It takes the joy and the nachas to an altogether higher level.

We cannot wait to celebrate with our dear family and Naples Mishpacha this weekend in shul, with our traditional kiddush  following services on Shabbat, in honor of  Chaya’s Bat Mitzvah. The main event will be on Sunday at the  Bat Mitzvah reception. We look forward to greeting you personally.

May we, as a family, always share these wonderful simchas with each other.



Rabbi Fishel and Ettie 


There is a reason for everything

Here at Chabad of Naples, the weeks are like snowflakes: no two weeks are ever alike!

Out of the blue today, I received a call from a visitor from California.

As he was here for just a short time, he Googled Chabad because he wanted to put on tefillin.  Now that’s not a call I get as often as I would like! But always enthusiastic, with an open door to accomplish this or any other mitzvah, I dropped everything and welcomed Eric to put on tefillin.

In the course of conversation, he asked my name and when I said “Zaklos”, he asked if by any chance I was related to a Zaklos in Vacaville. When I said he is my brother, Eric went on to say how inspired he is by Rabbi Chaim Zaklos who has built a magnificent center in Vacaville and what he is doing is remarkable. Of course, I agreed!

We prayed and he went on his way.

I am more inspired by my younger brother every day.

There is a reason for everything.  We are all connected and mitzvot beget more mitzvot as they bring us together.

Talking about prayer. Our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, each instituted one of the three daily prayers, and, tradition teaches, when Jacob arrived at the mountain, G-d caused the sun to set early so that he would pray the evening service—his unique prayer—there.

Today, prayer is assumed to take place only in the synagogue, but we can and should pray anywhere. You can still pray alone, whether at home, at work, or on the road.

Our ancestors taught us to find time in our busy days for G-d. No matter how much we have going on in our lives, take a few minutes three times a day to connect with the Creator. It will make the rest of your day so much brighter!

Let's all make our corner of the earth, the best possible to bring and disperse light!

Shabbat Shalom


A Shabbat facelift

Dear Friends,

There is a great animated cartoon about Shabbat that was made by a company in Israel. It depicts a very busy day in Manhattan, a lot of noise and a lot of traffic, and you see a policeman in the middle of all this traffic, but he doesn’t have a face—he has a whistle in place of his head. And then you see many people walking down the street, but nobody has a face -- one fellow has a computer monitor for a head, another has a pen for a head, and another has a wrench for a head -- it is a faceless world.

You see, everyone has become their job. They are no longer people with jobs, they are jobs. The cartoon goes on to depict a feeling of stress on the street and every few moments you see a clock that is ticking towards some set time.

One fellow, who has an attaché case for a head, is shown walking quickly towards home. When he finally reaches his house, he enters, sits down on a comfortable couch, and an alarm clock rings. At that moment his attaché case head melts into a radiant smiling face and he joyfully says: “Shabbat Shalom”!

You know, that famous Shabbat song called Lecha Dodi, we sing the words “Pinie Shabbes – let’s greet the face of Shabbat.”

What does it mean to “receive the face of Shabbat?

One answer is this: During the week my face was a briefcase, or a wrench, or computer, but tonight, because we celebrate Shabbat, we acquire a new face, “a Shabbat facelift,” a face that reflects serenity, holiness and love.

There’s no greater gift you can give yourself, a gift you will never better way to express our faith than by embracing the gift called… Shabbat!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

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.




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 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 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

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