Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Embracing Friendship

Dear Friends,

In this week's Torah portion, Moses hits rock bottom. The man has had quite the resume of miracles and wonders—parting the Red Sea, food falling from the sky, water gushing out of rocks. But what does he get in return? A bunch of whiny Israelites complaining about their menu options. Talk about ungrateful! They're not even hungry, just bored. They long for the good ol' days of free fish and all the veggies you can imagine: cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic.

Now, any leader would be ready to throw in the towel at this point. But what's truly remarkable is the depth of Moses' despair, which he shares with G-d in a no-holds-barred rant. He's like, "Why have You burdened me with these people? Did I give birth to them?” He even gets to the point of begging G-d to just end it all. It's like a melodramatic soap opera.

But instead of giving Moses a motivational speech, G-d pulls a practical move. He tells Moses to gather seventy elders to share the load. It's like saying, "You don't have to do this alone. Get yourself a support group." Even the Almighty recognizes the power of friendship.

Friends have a profound and significant impact on our lives—our habits, health, and success. So, choose your buddies wisely.

In the end, Moses learns the importance of companionship and the art of delegation. G-d helps him overcome his blues by reminding him that even the greatest prophet needs a little backup. So, surround yourself with good company and remember, friends can make all the difference.

And on that note, we would like to extend an invitation to join us for Shabbat and the Kiddush luncheon. It's a wonderful opportunity to surround yourself with friends, share in meaningful moments, and experience the joy of togetherness. We would be thrilled to have you join our community as we come together every Shabbat for celebration and connection. Looking forward to seeing you there! No Pressure:)

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie

Let's infuse the world with hope, love, and healing

Dear Friends,

Two months ago we were in beautiful Kibbutz Alumim, and heard from the incredible locals.

The sun was shining, birds chirping, and children running free.

Now there’s not a soul outside, and only the sound of loud explosions are heard.

On Tuesday morning, along with many other Gaza border communities, they received urgent alerts to immediately seek shelter. Hours later, our friends were instructed to either evacuate the kibbutz immediately, or expect to remain in bomb shelters for what could be a long time.

Since then, hundreds of rockets were fired at Israeli citizens.

Throughout history, in times of peril for the Land of Israel and the Jewish people, the performance of mitzvot has been our lifeline. It has evoked divine blessings and protection, embracing us in a shield of unity and strength. In the face of adversity, let us take up this mantle once more, forging a path of righteousness.

In this darkness, let us become beacons of light, illuminating the path with our collective goodness and kindness. It can be as simple as offering a prayer, or dedicating a moment of reflection. We can channel our resources to alleviate the suffering of those affected, lending a helping hand through acts of tzedakah and empathy. Through mitzvot, we infuse the world with hope, love, and healing, reminding our brothers and sisters that they are not alone.

So, let us rise as one, bound by the ties of heritage and shared destiny. Let the power of mitzvah guide our hands and hearts, as we weave a tapestry of compassion and solidarity. Together, we can turn the tides, adding light to a world in need and bringing solace to our beloved Israel.

Earlier, we visited in person. Now, we need to pray for them from afar.

Please join me in prayers that God continue to protect our brothers and sisters in Israel, and bring the ultimate peace. 

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

This week's Kiddush is being sponsored by Sally Aaron - In loving memory of her dear husband, Willard Aaron Zev ben Yitchak v’ Chanah Esther

It ain’t over till it’s over!

Dear Friends,

Today we commemorate the Second Passover, marked exactly one month from the first day of Passover. It’s a mini-holiday that commemorates the fact that they gave a second chance to those who could not celebrate the first Passover for whatever reason in Biblical times. They provided an opportunity to get it right precisely one month later.

Who came up with the idea? Not Moses. Not even G-d!

It came from the people. It was the first Passover after the Exodus from Egypt, and some people were unable to celebrate Passover. So, they came crying to Moses, “Lama Nigara” – why must we lose out?

G-d was impressed by their desire to get it right and instituted Pesach Sheni – the second Passover.

Friends, we all fail. The question is do we have the courage to

A.   Own up to our mistake.

B.   Want to change for the better

C.   Commit to that change

Then we will see that our best days are ahead of us.

If you want to change. If you want a healthy relationship with your kids, get back on your feet, and then you can make it happen.

You have to want to. And then put in the work. And you’ll be successful beyond your imagination.

There is always another chance! Or as they say “it ain’t over till it’s over!”

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Fire Up the Passion!

Dear Friends,

One of my favorite childhood memories is on Lag Ba’Omer, which our community would celebrate with the traditional huge bonfire. Okay, even today, it’s still one of my favorite things. There’s just something about fire that completely draws our attention in and fascinates us humans. We could just sit and stare at it for hours.

On Lag Ba’Omer [literally, the 33rd day of the omer] we commemorate the passing of the 2nd century sage, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Rabbi Shimon had specifically asked that this day be marked with celebrations and joy. That’s where the fire comes in. Rabbi Shimon was a sage of fierce passion, which his students described as a powerful raging fire.

This past month, my wife Ettie and I were privileged to travel to Israel with a group from our Chabad of Naples community. One of our very first stops was up north in Meron, at the resting place of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. The fiery passion of Rabbi Shimon still lives today, and especially in Meron we were moved to be able to feel it. All throughout Israel we were blessed to experience the fire and excitement of Judaism. In Hebron, after visiting Marat Hamachpela, which is the holy resting place of our ancestors, we got to join an enthusiastic celebration welcoming a new Torah scroll. We danced in the streets with the local residents, and felt an extra excitement and joy.

In a few more weeks it will be Shavuot, and we will celebrate receiving the Torah well over 3,000 years ago. Every year we celebrate anew, full of excitement (and ice cream and cheesecake) and gratitude as if G-d has just given us this gift for the first time.

Passion and warmth keep people alive. When you’re excited and care about something, you want to keep on going and making it even better and greater.

The truth is, we all have a little flame inside of us. Or sometimes just a small spark—but it’s there, waiting for us to find it and fire it up into something big. Everyone finds their fire in a different place; whether it’s in collecting for the local food bank, lighting Shabbat candles, visiting the lonely of our community, or opening a Torah book to learn something new and interesting.

At Chabad of Naples we like to rally around this flame, or spark, a lot. It’s there in you, and will only bring you joy when you find it. Start with something that you connect with, and bring it into your home! Whether it’s holding a Friday night Shabbat dinner, hosting a Torah study session, or setting up a charity box on your shelf.

Today, when the Jewish nation is spread out around the world and facing all kinds of existential threats, it’s more important than ever to find that Jewish passion and keep it burning.

As it says in the foundational Shema prayer, “You should love G-d… and you should teach it to your children.” When our children see our love for Judaism, kindness, and mitzvot, they want to continue it. It becomes that mesmerizing fire that everyone loves to stare at for hours on end.

So this Lag Baomer, while you stare at those mighty flames, think about your passions. What good deeds will you show excitement for, and captivate the next generation with? How will you show the joy and love of Judaism more than the oy and fear?

We would love to have you join our Chabad of Naples family for a delicious outdoor BBQ next Tuesday, May 9 at 6:00 PM.


Wishing you a very happy Lag Ba’Omer and Shavuot!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

'new' and 'renew'

Dear Friends,

The difference between 'new' and 'renew' is that something 'new' is appearing for the first time, while 'renew' means to restore, refresh, or revive something to make it like new again.

Although 'new' sounds exciting and thrilling, when it comes to the truly important things in life, we usually strive for durability and permanence. Finding new loved ones is great, but keeping the old ones is even better. A stream of new relationships, jobs and homes creates a life of impermanence; most of us prefer the depth and safety of a steady anchor. So it's actually 'REnew' that is the spice of life.

Today is Rosh Chodesh, which marks the start of the new Hebrew month. The Hebrew word for month, 'Chodesh', comes from the word for new. Every month in our lunar calendar is launched by the birth of the 'new' moon. However, the moon isn't really new, it just disappears from view every month and then returns.

So let the energy of Rosh Chodesh remind you to appreciate the constants in your life. Look at your spouse, job, home, and everything else with renewed appreciation and excitement. Recognize that you're living G-d's gift and appreciate it.

Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

We say thank you

Dear Friends, 

The holiday of Passover and the Seder in particular remind us to be grateful and to give thanks for all we have. Our well-known tune Dayenu reminds us of all the times G-d helped us in amazing ways, and of how ungrateful we were, always demanding more. Passover is, therefore, our opportunity to make up for this by showing how grateful we were and still are, every step of the journey. 

On the night of the Seder the gates of the heavens are open, and we raise our glasses filled with wine and say L'chaim. On a personal level, this is when Ettie and I express thanks to our incredible family: yes, our Naples/ Marco Mishpacha for every step of this amazing journey. 20 years ago we came to this beautiful place called Naples and today we have a growing and beautiful family, and we will spend the time at the Seder to go back and reflect on all the incredible angels who have given so much, who have been here for our community, for Chabad Naples and for us. We say thank you.

Our sincere repeated thanks will never be enough. 

Passover is also the time when we are blessed with spiritual freedom to allow us to rise above and "Passover" the confusion and worry stemming from the challenges we face in daily life. This year, more so than other years perhaps, Passover comes just on time. Enjoy its rich traditions, observe it's sacred customs. It will afford you much needed energy of joy and liberation to savor year-round. 

As we commemorate our first journey home, from Eygpt to the land of Israel, we pray for our Holy Land Eretz Yisrael and its people, Am Yisrael, that for once and for all -  they, all those who dwell in her borders and her neighbors beyond, be freed from the tyranny of terrorism striking fear in the hearts of its innocent, and may the land secure in its physical borders and its people secure in their spiritual purpose, be a light unto the nations.

May all of us find it within our heart to love each other and recognize that we are brothers and sisters, truly one family!

We pray for the people in Ukraine, we ask the Al-mighty; Protect those who only desire and deserve to live in security and safety. Comfort those who fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Be with those who are bereaved. Change the hearts of those set on violence and aggression.

We pray for the children of the world, the tragically suffering children of Ukraine, the hunger-stricken of Africa, the refugees in Europe and the US, and indeed all of G-d's children across the world, that they be endowed with a spirit of freedom from the oppression around them and be given the chance to live their lives in peace and dignity.

Let us use this opportunity to tap in to our inner Moses, taking a step forward in our own lives, to live a more present, conscious, G-dly life; enriching our family experience, uplifting our social value, and expanding our communal contribution to make the world, immediately around us, and beyond, a holier and happier place. We ask Hashem that as we grow and the needs continue, the angels and continued miracles will flow together.

We love you and L’chaim!!!!

 Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos


Are We Celebrating Too Soon?

Dear Friends,

There’s a classic Jewish joke about when the censor taker went to the Goldstein house. 

“Does Louis Goldstein live here?” he asked.

“No,” replied Goldstein.

“Well, then, what is your name?”

“Louis Goldstein.”

“Wait a minute–didn’t you just tell me that Goldstein doesn’t live here?”

“Ach,” said Goldstein. “You call this living?” 

I’ve been thinking about Louis. I’ve also been thinking—why do we have a huge holiday that only celebrates the very beginning of an extremely long journey? 

Passover is all about the Jews leaving Egypt, and the big miracles G-d made for our ancestors to escape that slavery. But the whole point in leaving Egypt was to get to the Land of Israel, settle the land, and ultimately build the Holy Temple. When the Jews left Egypt, as miraculous as it was, they still had a very long journey ahead. They knew they were about to trek across the desert with their children and elderly, face a lack of food and water, as well as wild animals and snakes, and attacks from multiple enemies. Then, when they’d finally arrive in Israel, they’d have to work to settle each city and town, while fighting off frequent invaders—and only then would they start to build the Temple. 

If you’re counting, that’s a 487 year journey from leaving Egypt until the completion of the first Temple by King Solomon. Forty of those years were spent wandering the desert, the next 436 had the Jewish people busy settling the land and dealing with the invader problem, until King David finally secured things enough for King Solomon to start building. Is it not too soon to celebrate when they barely started year one?  

Let’s imagine for a moment how overwhelming it must have been for the Jews who left Egypt, knowing what was ahead of them. All they’d known until then was slavery in Egypt, and while slavery is no fun at all, at least it was familiar and predictable. Now Moses was about to lead them into what must’ve felt like a never-ending journey.  

But the Jewish people took that first step, and now every year for 3,335 years, we’ve been celebrating that start with the very elaborate holiday of Passover. 

Because Passover isn’t even about the construction of the Temple. It’s about the journey towards it; Passover celebrates that first step out of slavery and into freedom, and then all the little steps along the way. It’s a powerful perspective on life, an attitude that changes everything.  

We’re all on a journey, for our whole life. We have many goals we’re trying to achieve, whether it’s starting a family, growing a successful business, or becoming a better person—and all these things take time. If we’d push off all of our happiness until we finally make it to the end, we’d all be like Louis Goldstein who never gets to enjoy what he has in life, because he’s too busy thinking it could be better. 

But Passover teaches us to stop at every little milestone, and celebrate it. Celebrate the day you decided to break free of an old habit. Celebrate the day you did it just a little less than before. Celebrate when you set out on a new job, celebrate each new thing you learn, and every nice conversation along the way. Freedom is dancing between the raindrops and enjoying the journey you chose to set out on.  

And remember—journeys have ups and downs. Life wasn’t all roses and peaches in the desert; the Jewish nation suffered through many low points, and those are also all mentioned in the Torah. Just as we learn to celebrate the highs, we learn to have patience with ourselves and forgive the more difficult moments as we continue facing forward, one step at a time. 

Today, when our world feels dominated by adversarial forces––be it rising antisemitism or strong political disagreements––life's journey may feel particularly overwhelming. And while of course we need to address these issues, they need not prevent us from remembering how far we've come as a nation. We have thriving Jewish communities, including our modern paradise of Naples, and can step foot on the holy soil of Israel after a (relatively) short plane ride (just ask one of our Naples family members who went on the Israel trip with us last month). We have so much to celebrate!

This Passover, may we all learn to celebrate our journeys, and find happiness in every step along the way.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Passover with Love & Light,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

Yesterday a bright light was taken from us.

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Yesterday a bright light was taken from us.

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of our dear friend and supporter, Ruth Anderson, at the vivacious age of 104. Ruth passed away Thursday, March 23 at the Arlington here in Naples.

May Hashem bring comfort and peace to Karen, her only daughter, and may her Neshama have an Aliyah of all the good and blessings she brought to this world. Already I do miss her and her signature smile.

Ruth was one of the very first people Ettie and I met when we arrived in Naples. She was always smiling and cheerful, optimistic, positive, energetic, clever, and possessed a great sense of humor. She was also very opinionated and politically knowledgeable and active.

From our very first meeting, Ruth's trademark vitality, joie de vivre, and energy were always evident and will be sorely missed.

In latter days as she recovered from an injury, we supplied her with Flying Challahs and other treats to help elevate her indomitable spirit. Hearing she was fond of soup, one Friday we sent some to her. "What, no challah?" she asked. A typical 'Ruthism'.

Ruth would tell me “every night I send an email to God, to thank Him for a good day, and ask him for another good day, and it happens!”

Her kindness was legendary. She became the Arlington poster child, not merely for her longevity, but for her ability to reach out, make friends, and help others. If someone needed repairs to clothing, they sought Ruth.

At the beginning of Covid, she took it upon herself to use her collection of fabrics to make masks for everyone.

According to Judaism, more than living a long life, is the life that we put into our years. Ruth embodied both long years, and years of life.

A steadfast Partner and supporter of Chabad of Naples, Ruth lived with the truth that it is that which we give that we truly own forever.

There is so much more to say to do her justice, but for now we say simply that a very bright light has been lost.

The memories of her warmth and humanity, her generosity and wisdom, are a small part of the blessings she leaves behind. We are truly humbled to have shared these past twenty years with Ruth Anderson.

This Shabbat, as we honor her Neshamah, let us keep Ruth in our hearts and minds as we celebrate shabbat and enjoy our challah and shabbat meal. Memories of Ruth Anderson are indeed a blessing.

Let's do our part to bring more light in her absence. Tomorrow, in her Chabad Naples Shul, I will accept an Aliyah in her honor and will be praying for the swift and easy passage of her beautiful soul into the next world.

We express our deepest condolences to Karen, her family, friends, and her extended community.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem!

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Dear Friends,

Hello from Jerusalem! We’re in the middle of an incredible week with many of the Chabad Naples community here in Israel. Throughout our travels, and at every holy site, we’ve had our entire community in mind, and have been thinking of and praying for everyone back home. 

Now we’re about to enter Shabbat in Jerusalem, and look forward to celebrating this special day at the kotel. 

From the moment we stepped off the plane, we have been overcome by so many thoughts and emotions as we see, hear, taste, touch and feel this incredible land that the Jewish people are lucky to call home. 

We have just been here a few days, but I wanted to share some of what I am currently experiencing with our dear community from Chabad Naples. 

It is awesome, in every sense of the word, to walk the same soil of our ancestors, and visit the places where Samuel the prophet and King David once led our people in ancient times. Here, those figures become relevant and meaningful, a connection to our past and history like no other.

Yet, even with all the history, I have never felt Am Yisrael Chai – the Jewish people are alive! - as I did this week. As I walk Jerusalem’s streets and see the bustling Ben Yehuda Market, the people from all walks of life and every faith coming together, I am struck by the spirit and the vibrant life that is so much a part of this city. .

Here in Jerusalem I see the past, present and future of Judaism flourish, where children sing in the streets, and our brave IDF soldiers walk with a gun in one hand and a falafel in the other. I am filled with a sense of awe and respect for our incredible people living in our Land as despite all odds, they live with a fierce determination and hope. 
What comes to mind is the great need to bring light to dispel
darkness in our world. There is a saying “Re’eh BiTuv Yerushalayim – see the good of

This week we have been blessed to truly see the light of Jerusalem, and we are hoping to share this unique energy and inspiration with all of you. It is my hope that we can bring Jerusalem’s light, peace and kindness into our homes, our community and our world. 

I’d like to share our wonderful experience with you, and hear your feedback. Below is an overview of what we’ve been doing—a mini journey just for you. So, what do you think? which ones are your favorite? Would you like to join us next time? Please tell me which places you’d like to visit in person!

With love and blessings, 

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

PSA: Although I am across the ocean, services WILL be taking place this week as usual at
Chabad of Naples, led by Rabbi Choni teitelbaum. I encourage you to attend and
send Rabbi Choni my best. As always, there will be a kiddush lunch, graciously sponsored by Carlos and Jill Weil. 

We didn’t know anyone

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We didn’t know anyone

Dear Friends,

Purim was one of the very first events that we held in Naples.

It was our first opportunity to bond with the community in a real way and to begin to embrace each other with love and happiness.

Purim reminds us of when we began our journey with this beautiful community: it was much simpler but the foundation for the love and happiness we now enjoy.

When Ettie Zaklos and I arrived here Mendel was only a little boy and soon he will be 20 years old:)

How little we really understood when we first came here: at times success seemed insurmountable. We didn’t know anyone, the place was new, but we followed the message of Purim and continued with our dream.

We believed G-d is always working behind the scenes and if we did our part we would see our dreams unfold and become reality.

Today, just as with the Purim story, we see the miracle. We look with joy upon what we have established here in Naples together: a beautiful Chabad campus, a vibrant community, a hugely successful Naples Preschool of the Arts, and a center of love and light.

In these challenging days, we must try to keep our eyes focused on better times and keeping the miracle alive.

In your own life today you can absorb this message -- come & hear the story at Chabad Naples-- are you ready for it? It's one of the happiest festivals!

Connect with the past so it can guide us all for the future.

On a simple note it is the happiest day of the year, so let’s celebrate! There's a HUGE Purim Party planned tomorrow, Tuesday, March 7th at 5:30 pm.

Make your reservations now - space is limited!  See you there

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie 

Carpe diem!

Dear Friends,

The story of Purim, which commences this Monday evening, is well-known. It recounts the Jews' dire situation 2,500 years ago when the nefarious Haman, advisor to Persian King Ahaseurus, plotted to annihilate the Jewish population.

Unbeknownst to many, including the King, Queen Esther, a Jewess and relative of the prominent Jewish leader Mordechai, was in a position to help. As the Jews rallied and spiritually renewed themselves, Esther worked to save them from destruction.

This story offers a multitude of life lessons.

When Mordechai became aware of the danger and urged Esther to plead with the King, she responded with a sad but practical message, stating that she had not been summoned to the King's quarters for a month and could do little to help.

Mordechai's response, however, reframed her perspective, reminding her that her unique position could enable her to save her people. He suggested that her attainment of a royal position might have been for just such a need.

In other words, when we find ourselves in a position to make a difference, we should recognize it as an opportunity to fulfill our purpose and perhaps even the Divine objective for our lives. 

So, the next time you find yourself in a situation that demands action, remember the Purim story and Mordechai's words: "Who knows whether it was for just such a need that you were able to attain a royal position?!" Don't pass up the opportunity to make a difference - it may just be the reason you were placed there in the first place. While we cannot know what G-d has in store for us, our next choice may be our chance to fulfill it. 

Carpe diem!  

We can't wait to see you all for the grand Purim party!. No worries. I won't insist that you make a somersault. 

Chag Sameach & Shabbat Shalom! 


 Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

Let us celebrate TOGETHER a Shabbat of Peace and Love.

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Dear Chabad Naples family,

You may have received information that some Anti-Semitic hate groups are calling for a "National Day of Hate" this Saturday - February 25. They are calling for their followers to distribute hateful stickers, fliers and to produce graffiti (and video their actions for social media).

While there are no specific threats to Chabad Naples, please be assured that we are in constant communication with Naples Police Department, and Collier County Sheriff. They do an incredible job protecting all citizens. Our security team has also been in close contact with the NPD and other security agencies and we are increasing our vigilance and security coverage throughout the weekend to ensure everyone's safety. We are also in touch with and receive updates from statewide and federal law agencies.

Our special thanks and appreciation to Naples Police Chief Tom Weschler, Master Officer Sean Phillips, Master Officer Tyrone Davis and the department, who have already implemented patrols for the Chabad Naples Community Center, enhanced security measures and overall vigilance on our property. We are grateful to them always, doing everything in their power every day to protect and safeguard all citizens.

During this Hebrew month of Adar, when we celebrate the holiday of Purim, we recall the downfall of Haman who also called for a day of hate against the Jewish people 2,500 years ago. While Haman perished in his hate, we are here as a strong and proud nation, continuing to celebrate our LOVE of our fellow man, life and Judaism. We will never be intimidated by hate and evil.

In Judaism light is always a reference to a mitzvah. Each of us should add an extra Mitzvah light this Shabbos. Let's make sure we light our Shabbat candles even if we don't ordinarily do so. And if we would normally not be at shul let's make it a point to be there.

Let's respond with joy and optimism. Light has a way to defeat darkness effortlessly.

Please come to Synagogue tomorrow and we will say an extra L'Chaim for the miracle of our Jewish continuity despite thousands of years of Antisemitism.

Torah reading and discussion at 11:00, sermon at 11:30, and a delicious kiddush lunch at 12:15.

Let's make it a NATIONAL DAY OF LOVE AND PEACE! We will continue to spread and share our mission of solidarity, light, love and knowledge. 

Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Kiddush sponsored by the Rimberg family in loving memory of Zalman Ben Shimon. 

The not-so-secret formula behind the success of Chabad and Preschool

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

This week Ettie is at the Chabad International conference, attended by women hailing from around the world, as far away as Laos and Angola. As more than  4,000 Chabad women gather in Crown Heights, can you imagine the power emanating from there! This is a special time to acknowledge, as we all know, the not-so-secret formula behind the success of Chabad and Preschool:  it is Ettie.  Although it is impossible for me, both literally and figuratively to fill her shoes, I will do my best to  hang in and ‘hold the fort’ until she returns.

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos


This Tu Bishvat Don’t Grow Up, Grow Down!

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This Tu Bishvat Don’t Grow Up, Grow Down! 
Rabbi Fishel Zaklos

The Jewish calendar truly has a holiday for everyone—this month, Shvat, is a winner with the nature enthusiasts. Tu Bishvat, celebrated as the birthday of the trees, marks the day when fruit trees begin to blossom in Israel for the first time since Rosh Hashana. Personally, my Tu Bishvat came early this year, in a mystical sort of way. Let me explain—Tu Bishvat doesn’t just celebrate the trees growing outside, but also compares people to trees, and reminds us to celebrate our own personal growth and our steadfast roots. 

Trees are most vulnerable when they’re small, or even before they grow—while scratching a fully grown tree won’t really affect it, a seed with a scratch or blemish will struggle to grow evenly and to produce healthy fruit. While a larger tree may be able to handle it, too much rain could drown a seedling entirely, and too little will completely dry it out. A small sapling in its first three years needs attentive loving care, with just the right amount of sun and water, and not too much windy turbulence—but not too little either, or it won’t grow roots. 

Our small children are the same. In their early years they are most impressionable, and every bit of care matters a million fold. A good early childhood education prepares a person for the world in a way that nothing else can. I learn this every day from my wife, Ettie, who directs the Preschool of the Arts. While some people mistake preschool for simple babysitting, Ettie puts unbelievable thought and love into the education of the small children in her school, taking every detail into consideration, and understanding every child’s unique needs. I often sit in awe just observing the incredible work that she puts into each activity and lesson, and it shows. Anyone who walks into the classroom can feel it in the ambience. Just the right amount of rain, sunshine, and calming breeze to grow strong and healthy trees. 

So how did my Tu Bishvat come early? At Chabad Naples & Preschool of the Arts, we just completed phase two of the “Let’s Grow” campaign, to raise funds for construction of a brand new preschool building, complete with innovative communal spaces. Over 500 community members contributed, and showed that they too understand the very particular needs of our littlest trees. 

Now life is not without its hard times. Just like trees, we people need strong roots. In fact, we don’t just need the roots in place, we need to know they are there so we feel ready when the strong winds come. Our roots come from our ancestors and teachers of the past who weathered strong storms themselves, and taught us how to do the same. When we feel that life's challenges are becoming too strong, and the storm too frightening, that’s when we need to look back at our roots. Remember that they’re holding us tight and cheering us on, because they know that we can do it, just like they did years before. We learn from their experiences, breathe in their wisdom, and then stand grounded in our place even when everything seems to be going the other way. 

While we do our best to protect our children from the harsh realities of this world, we also must teach them about their roots, and give them the confidence to connect with that deep internal strength. Tu Bishvat is the perfect time to sit down with our children and teach them about their roots with stories of our heroes and role models from our past. 

We’re securing building permits for our new state-of-the-art preschool building and gathering spaces, and have entered the final phase 3 of our “Let’s Grow” fundraising campaign, which will bring us to the Big Build finish line.

Please join us by giving generously at

Your support for our community TODAY can help build the leaders of TOMORROW through investing in a foundation of education, joy, and connection.

In the meantime, to everyone who inspired me this Tu Bishvat, and who is helping care for our little trees to make a better world in the future; I salute you.

To learn more, and to see all of our dedication opportunities, or to schedule a personal meeting with Rabbi Fishel Zaklos or Ettie Zaklos, Call 239-404-6993 or Email [email protected], [email protected]  


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Sharing some personal introspection on campaign day five

Sharing some personal introspection on campaign day five

Dear Friends,

This week I’ve been blessed to speak with so many more community members than usual, thanks to everyone who has been calling in and stopping by, or who I’ve called over the last few days since the start of our campaign.

Through all these conversations, something really struck me about our uniquely beautiful community. Let me explain from the beginning…

Chanukah is celebrated during the darkest time of year. When the days are short, and the nights are cold and long.

The greatest miracles of the small and weak winning over the big and strong, and of the little flames flickering on for eight days—we celebrate those on days when there’s more dark than light. 

Because it’s when things seem difficult and bleak that we need to gather together and create more light. And it’s in those bleak times that we really discover the flame inside of us and learn to appreciate its power. 

The past few months have been difficult times for our community. Between the hurricane devastation and aftermath, rising antisemitism, and constant difficult news—we’ve really been thrown into a dark place. 

But instead of giving in, our community came together; we found our deepest lights and shone them strong. We pulled each other up, volunteered as a team, helped our neighbors out, ate together, and brought food and blessings to anyone in need.

Everyone saw, bright and clear, that the Chabad of Naples and Preschool of the Arts community is a force to be reckoned with—a force of light, warmth, and love. 

Each night of Chanukah we add another flame, until we push all the darkness away.

In our community too; we keep adding light. Now it’s time for us to expand our beautiful Preschool of the Arts and community building, a place to grow children and families who will make the world a brighter place. 

Join me, and add more light than you’ve ever done before. Tell your friends too, we’re building this masterpiece of goodness together—a menorah that shines brighter each day. 

Don’t wait, donate now:

Thank you for bringing your brightest flame to our community,

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos

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