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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

We spent a week grasping the unimaginable

 Dear Friends, 

The Chabad of Naples trip of 2024 was meant to be another exquisite adventure, uncovering the beauty of our land and the composition of our spirit.

The trip of 2024 in real time would become a journey unmatched in the history of our many trips.

We spent a week grasping the unimaginable in ways never to have been imagined before.

We met with our people all around Israel, sat and listened to their heartbreak until ours felt like it was shattered too.

We hugged and cried with soldiers who had seen the unseeable, and stood with mothers whose babies were torn from their arms and wait for them in Hamas’s tunnels of hell.

We saw the heroism of Israel, the brave people who ran into the fires and showed superhuman strength to guard their people, We got the chills when they said they’d do anything for the nation of Israel, because we saw that it was true. We felt their faith straight through our bones when after all they witnessed and survived, they stood up to thank God, don tefillin, and pledge to light Shabbat candles.

Our enemies intended to bring us to our knees, yet a unified Am Yisrael did just the opposite. We reached in and with a strength so fierce, and determination so focused, we rose to a place unmatched, like the Hasmoneans of old - the enemy forgot who they were dealing with.

We wish I could stay side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder with them until all the pain is healed.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge my dear wife Ettie Zaklos who held the fort back at home. I feel so blessed to be supported by my amazing partner who keeps everything going, for our kids, world famous Chabad of Naples, our community, and of course, #1 Preschool of the Arts! She’s the pillar of support and absolute powerhouse behind and in front of everything I do. Thank you, Ettie!

I’d also like to say a tremendous thank you to every single person who donated. Your donation is feeding and clothing victims of terror, lifting up the injured, and supporting our soldiers.

You’re making a huge difference to the IDF, and to lift their morale when they need it most, and much more.

Your donation is doing incredible things for Israel, and you showed that we can do something. We can show up and make a difference. And now we need to do even more. The need is real!

I would like to encourage you to continue to be strong and continue your support, and the mitzvot you had started doing for our brothers and sisters. 

We pledge to take the message we have heard this week and bring it home to our families, communities, congregations and friends. We understand that at the charge of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, we fight a spiritual battle which needs to be won on all fronts too. And this we promise to do.

Let us make a resolution that we will not rest until our brothers and sisters can walk the streets safely, be happy, and each of the hostages are returned safely.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

I confess, I don’t cry often. But this past week I did. A lot.

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Dear Friends,

I confess, I don’t cry often. But this past week I did. A lot.

It was a whirlwind of a visit to Israel. We experienced the highs and the lows. The powerful faith and solidarity, and the heart-shredding pain and anguish. We saw the friendship, love, and heroism, and the wounds, tears, and missing limbs.

In the Re’im forest, at the site of the Nova Festival massacre, we felt the pain of our people. In Chevron, at the Cave of our Patriarchs, and in nearby Beit Lechem at the graveside of Rachel the Matriarch, we remembered why we’re here—the deep roots of the Jewish nation, and our unbreakable tie to the Holy Land.

Sunday was the most difficult day. When I tell you I don’t usually cry—I mean that this time I couldn’t hold it back. The floodgates opened. We stood together at the funeral of a young soldier who fell in battle just the night before. Ilai Zair was and elite commando soldier, only 20-years-old, young enough that he had his whole life ahead of him; old enough to have made a powerful impact on the lives of so many.

We listened to his mother, then brother, and younger sister each between choked tears talk about the gentle soul who they loved and lost, who always thought about his friends and family first, and knew when someone was in pain. He wasn’t one you’d expect to see in a war zone, but he was there because he had to defend his people, and anything he did, he did all the way.

After pouring her pain out before everyone in attendance, and with a quivering but determined voice, Ilai’s sister sang the words, “ani maamin,” “I believe in perfect faith that the redemption will come.”

Tears, heartbreak, and resilience.

This is what we witnessed in Israel, and this is what they asked us to bring back home; the message that while we stand together in pain, we also stand together in hope and faith in a strong future for the Jewish nation. That we will sing and dance and rebuild as we always have.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Almost six months into the war, and it’s time to go back.

Dear Friends, 

Almost six months into the war, and it’s time to go back.

The last time I visited was just weeks after the war broke out, with a delegation of Chabad rabbis. I promised I’d come back soon. Now, on Sunday, G-d willing, together with members of our community, I’ll be on a flight to Israel again. We will go to volunteer, bear witness, connect, and bring comfort to our family in Israel in midst of war. 

It’ll be an intense trip, with visits to sites from the earliest days of our history and roots in the land, to sites of deep pain and struggle from the present. Through it all though, we will see our bright future as a passionate nation that holds together in the most difficult times in order to build for better days ahead. 

The purpose of the trip is clear: To give the people of Israel a big hug and say to them “You are not alone”, we, in the USA and Naples, are with you in your pain! With 134 hostages still in captivity and our soldiers confronting the enemy, our extended Jewish family remain under fire.

Before we go, on Shabbat, we will read this week’s Torah portion, in which G-d commands us to keep an eternal flame burning in the Holy Temple. The Talmud details that the flame kept burning even on Shabbat, and even when the Jews were in a state of turmoil. 

True passion burns in the good times and the bad—during the peaceful Shabbat-like days, and during agony and war. Our last group trip to Israel was full of dancing and excitement in times of relative calm, and this time, it will also be filled with passion, love, and faith in G-d that He will once again pull us through, into peaceful Shabbat-like days.

I don’t want to show up empty-handed. While there on the ground, we will identify the most critical needs so we can provide actual support and uplift them in body and in spirit.

I invite you to participate in this Mitzvah by making a generous contribution to the Israel Emergency Fund, PLEASE CLICK HERE TO MAKE A DONATION.

You can also donate through your DAF or mail a check to: Chabad Naples 1789 Mandarin Rd. Naples, FL 34102.

I conclude with a prayer: May He who makes peace on High make peace for us and for all Israel, Amen.

With deep gratitude and warmest blessings,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

PS - I plan to send periodic updates while in Israel as well as report to you upon my return.

It's a big day... and an important day

Dear Friends,

This Sunday (beginning with Saturday night) is PURIM!

Purim celebrates our miraculous survival throughout history. It also celebrates our innate connection to our peoplehood, to each other, and to God. 

So it's a big day... and an important day. This year perhaps more than ever before in our lifetimes. Celebrate it! Don't let it be just another day. Capitalize on its energy to thank God for the miracle of Am Yisrael Chai, while asking Him to continue blessing and protecting our people everywhere.

Here's the way to spend the day: Spend it with the family. Dress the kids and grandkids in costumes. Drive 'em around town delivering food gifts to friends and family.

Plan on being at Chabad Naples to hear the Megillah, on Sunday at 11:15am. Click here to register your family for the Seussica Purim Family Celebration. Make it a day your family will remember and look forward to each year!

There are four special Mitzvahs, Commandments we perform today:

1. HEAR the reading of the Megillat Esther (story of Purim) on Purim night and again the next day.

2. SEND Mishloach Manot (food packages containing at least two ready-to eat items) to at least one friend.

3. GIVE Matanot La’evyonim (charity to the poor) to at least two needy people or put money into charity boxes. You can Donate Here and indicate that it’s for Purim charity and we’ll distribute it to the needy on Purim.

4. EAT a Purim feast during Purim day with family and friends. You can join our Community Purim Celebration, or have your own festive meal.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe of righteous memory would often encourage added Simcha, joy, which can break all boundaries and limitations. In the merit of our collective added joy, may it bring much needed peace in Israel and the world over and salvation and deliverance to the hostages and to the many who need it at this time. Amen!

We look forward to seeing the entire community, as we celebrate our grand Purim celebration this Sunday at 12:00pm. 

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

From First Purim to Flourishing Future

 

First purim.JPGDear 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! www.chabadnaples.com/purim  See you there

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie 

L’Chaim, to Life!

Dear Friends,

If there's one thing we all need now more than anything else it's INSPIRATION & STRENGTH.

Between the difficult news from the battlefield in Gaza, to the anti-Semitism around the world, we need to keep focused on our own values and identity, from which to find inner strength during these times of uncertainty.

It's very important for us to make the most of every opportunity to come together and demonstrate our common commitment to our heritage, culture and ideals.

This Monday night, our community will have the privilege of immersing in Tevye in New York! – Tom Dugan’s one-man show is based on Sholem Aleichem’s beloved characters immortalized in Fiddler on the Roof. This show takes up where the original stories left off as Tevye tries to balance tradition with what it means to be an American Jew.

Join us for this much anticipated event at Hilton Naples! You won't forget. Don't miss out! 

The Rebbe often spoke of turning pain into action, and tragedy into positive energy for goodness.

Ultimately, Jewish identity and continuity depends on one thing: Jewish wisdom. The teachings of our Torah are eternal and infused with meaning and depth. It’s a study, something to talk and think about, but it’s also a way to live and behave – with faith, humility, kindness and compassion.

So let us provide our families and children with deep a and meaningful Jewish education and experience.

Join us on Monday night as we take inspiration and energy from coming together as a community to celebrate Jewish life, and encourage ourselves and each other to move forward with strength and even optimism, as individuals and as a community.

85% Sold - Secure your ticket now and don't miss out on this unforgettable experience.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER. We hope to see you. 

“L’Chaim, to Life!” – a life of Yiddishkeit --- today, tomorrow, forever!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

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

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Dear Friends, 

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

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

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

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

This week is the International Chabad conference, attended by women hailing from around the world, as far away as Laos and Angola. As more than 3,000 Chabad women gather in Crown Heights, can you imagine the power emanating from there! This is a special time to acknowledge, as we all know, the not-so-secret formula behind the success of Chabad Naples and Preschool: it is Ettie.

The common saying that “behind every successful man is a woman” is not true in our case, as Ettie and I have proudly worked side by side for the past 20 years co-directing Chabad of Naples together as partners. 

L’chaim Ettie! L’chaim for everything you do for our Chabad of Naples & Preschool of the Arts, and for bringing so much joy and love into our community and our home. 

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos  

 

We feel crippled and trapped

Dear Friends,

Advice for Life:

The Rebbe's Advice for Leading a More Purposeful Life

The Rebbe's spiritual leadership is the force behind the modern Chabad movement. Join this new fascinating course to journey through the Rebbe's practical wisdom on work, family, health, and well-being. Discover how the Rebbe applied Jewish values to serve as a guide for finding deeper meaning in everyday life.

Experience the Rebbe's exceptional approach to uncovering timeless meaning in everyday questions of health, work, family, fulfillment, struggle, and inner peace.

Join us for a fascinating six-week course offering a close-up of the Rebbe's powerful and transformational Advice for Life.

Our first lesson kicks off at 7:00 PM - 8:35 PM on January 30 at Naples, and tackles the meaning of work, money, and career. Specifically, we’ll answer the question: Does work have inherent value and purpose?

In the weeks ahead, we’ll get a view of how Jewish values inform our quest to find meaning in life and answers to everyday dilemmas.

Starting January 30 at 7pm. Learn more and RSVP at www.chabadnaples.com/adulteducation

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When the Jewish people were leaving Egypt they were being chased by their oppressors and found themselves trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea.

G-d had commanded them to continue traveling but, with the sea in their way, they were at loss about what to do.

According to our tradition it was only when Nachshon walked into the water until it came up to his nose that the sea miraculously split, and the Jews were able to cross on dry land. Nachshon knew that G-d had commanded them to travel, so he did his part and moved forward. In that merit G-d took care of the rest in a miraculous way.

There are times in our lives where we feel crippled and trapped. The ominous obstacles in front of us seem to be insurmountable. We learn from Nachshon that we don't have to figure it all out. Rather, we have to move forward and do whatever we can do. We must push ourselves and work towards our goal, even against impossible odds.

When we do this, G-d will split the troubled seas for us and we will find ourselves moving forward to achievements that are beyond our wildest dreams.

Wishing you and your family a warm and safe Shabbat,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos


Thanks for everything colonel!

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Yesterday we honored the soul of our beloved Charles Sues, with so many of our community members present.

This picture was taken May 9, 2004 at a Torah dedication, and it’s a befitting tribute to his legacy, as a man who was unwavering in his dedication to Judaism. He was a proud American, a grateful and commited Jew, and a wonderful human being.

Whether joining us for Shabbat services or whipping me in tennis, Charles was a dear friend and supporter of the community in Naples and beyond.

He was a dedicated family man (married for 71 years!), an army veteran, and a man of big opinions and an even bigger heart. He believed there was a right way to do things, and he wasn't shy about telling you what that right way was.

He leaves behind an impressive number of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, to carry on the torch he fought so hard to keep lit. I’ve never seen someone beam with such pride as Charles when his grand children and great grandchildren would gather around him at the synagogue.

Thank you, Charles, for the honor of sharing 20 years with you. Thank you for teaching me what it means to be strong yet soft, fierce yet loving, determined yet caring; a strong Jew and a proud American.

We will certainly do our best to continue to honor his memory and gladden his soul.

Thanks for everything colonel!

You're Invited: Groundbreaking Ceremony

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Dear Friends,

Ettie and I are beyond thrilled to share with you that tomorrow we are finally breaking ground on the long-awaited Big Build!

So much work has been put into reaching this incredible milestone and we couldn't have done it without the remarkable support of our community.

You've supported and cheered us on since we announced this historic project and now we invite you- friends, supporters, alumni and community members to please join us in person as we break ground on a new chapter of our Jay and Patty Baker Preschool story.

Join us for the Groundbreaking Ceremony on Friday, January 19, at 9 AM. Kindly RSVP to [email protected]

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Where would we be without our dreams?

Dreams come in all sizes, and that’s what makes them so exciting and in some ways, so challenging.

No one can enforce what we dream, how we dream, or how large are dreams are: we are free to build and shape them as we desire. Perhaps it’s easier to realize a smaller dream, but there is nothing to stop us from dreaming large! Have you ever dreamed of winning a super large lottery, and then tried to decide what you would do with the proceeds and how many people’s lives you could improve?

Or perhaps, as you arise each day and thank G-d for merely restoring your soul, that’s quite enough for you. Maybe the dream of perfect happiness for you is walking in the sunshine on this earth and enjoying family and friends in good health.

Each time we enter our magnificent Chabad of Naples & Naples Preschool of the Arts and allow ourselves to absorb the holiness, beauty and joy and to focus on how many willing hands went into making this dream come true, that is when we can be truly thankful for realizing one of our most precious dreams. It may have seemed impossible at one time, but again, where would we be without our dreams?

So, let's continue dreaming together tomorrow.

Join us for the Groundbreaking Ceremony on Friday, January 19, at 9 AM. Please RSVP to office@[email protected].

Let's gather to celebrate this significant milestone and the bright future that lies ahead. We eagerly anticipate seeing everyone there!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

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Never lose your spirit

Dear Friends,

Ettie and I are beyond thrilled to share with you that next week we are finally breaking ground on the long-awaited Big Build!

So much work has been put into reaching this incredible milestone and we couldn't have done it without the remarkable support of our community.

You've supported and cheered us on since we announced this historic project and now we invite you- friends, supporters, alumni and community members to please join us in person as we break ground on a new chapter of our Jay and Patty Baker Preschool story.

Join us for the Groundbreaking Ceremony on Friday, January 19, at 9 AM. Kindly RSVP to office@[email protected]

****

Do you know how the Jews reacted when Moses came to tell them the news that they will be leaving Egypt? Think they partied and danced? Not quite… “And they did not listen to Moses out of shortness of breath.”

The Hebrew word for breath is Ruach. But Ruach also means “spirit”. This passage can be translated as "And they did not listen to Moses out of lack of spirit."

In the history of Egypt not a single slave had ever escaped. How could an entire nation ever walk free? Moses was a dreamer, they thought. It is just not realistic to hold out such high hopes, only to have them dashed yet again. And so the people were utterly despondent and spiritless and, therefore, they could not hear, i.e. absorb, Moses’ message.

It happens all too often. People become so set in their mediocrity that they give up hope of ever achieving the breakthrough. This is true for marriages, careers or our spiritual aspirations, we lose the desire to dream.

The Torah is teaching us never to lose our ‘spirit’, our hopes, our dreams and resolve!

Shabbat Shalom and have a great week ahead!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Thank you!

Dear Friends, 

I take this opportunity on behalf of Ettie and myself, to wish you and your family the very best in 2024. May it be a year of blessings for you, for our community, for our country and for our Holy Land of Israel and may we enjoy these blessings in the best of health and happiness.

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We are beyond grateful for the outpouring of community support for the year-end matching campaign. A record number of over 402 people made a generous contribution during the campaign. 

We would like to take a moment to thank you, and our beautiful community as a whole, for helping make the last twelve months such a resounding success. 

Despite the many challenges, the last year has been a time of tremendous growth. More people than ever before were impacted, assisted, inspired and touched in so many ways.

None of this would have happened without the unwavering encouragement, financial and moral support from so many of you who are truly our partners in making this happen.

Thank you to all who donated in 2023 and helped make it a year of continued success. It was the collective power of these donations which helped meet the evolving needs of our community.

To our steadfast Chabad of Naples Partners and our dedicated POTA Circle of Hearts members, thank you for being the backbone of our organization, and providing the critical funds needed for us to operate and grow. Many who support Chabad Naples generously throughout the year, out of the limelight, may not have been listed in this campaign, they too are very much appreciated and admired. Thank You for providing Chabad Naples with the means to be able to do the work it does, year round.

Thank you to the dozens of volunteers who gave their time and energy to the center, or who helped so many in times of need.

Thanks to the thousands of you who participated in programs, holiday events, classes, and many services and celebrations, who enabled us to spread more light and blessings in 2023.

We are all so blessed to have each other and to have such an incredible community. Let us take a moment and recognize the blessings in our life and go into the new year filled with optimism and gratitude!

Looking forward to good and even better times ahead together as a community in 2024. and wishing each and every one of you good health, happiness and continued success!

We can't wait to spend an epic 2024 with you.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Arthur M. Seigel

A miraculous community response!

Dear Friends, 

WOW! THANK YOU!!! 

A miraculous community response! Together. We did it! One community united in a beautiful effort to help bring light to others.

It's a long post, but from the heart (so I'm allowed:)) and if you get to the end of the post do it!

Phase 2 COMPLETE! Together we raised 1 million dollars in just 12 days!

Ettie and I are so touched and humbled by the outpouring of love and support.

In the past twelve days, 397 generous donors came together with contributions of all sizes.

We have now reached the milestone of $6 million raised of the total $7.5 million campaign

Knowing that you are eager to support Chabad of Naples & the Jay & Patty Baker Preschool of the Arts, is inspiring and empowering. This accomplishment will be the force for even more growth, education and celebration, going forward.

To our visionary donors and the namesakes of the preschool, Jay and Patty Baker, your incredible generosity made all of this possible.

To our 2023 matcher, Howard Ash, you made this campaign possible.

To our incredible donors, we are so grateful for your support. Every dollar you have donated will help us build a bright future for our children and community.

To our steadfast Chabad of Naples Partners and our dedicated POTA Circle of Hearts members, thank you for being the backbone of our organization, and providing the critical funds needed for us to operate and grow.

To every supporter and volunteer of Chabad of Naples and POTA in any capacity, we are so grateful for your friendship and partnership.

 The list of names deserving of mention and thanks is long, but time is short, (the weather is beautiful) and the festivities are beckoning:); so instead of announcing a long list of names, I will ask you to like this post for all the incredible people at Chabad of Naples.

On behalf of every soul that will be inspired and ignited thanks to your investment, we thank you!

The week we will witness the initial stages of our project, including fencing, excavating, grading, and clearing at the site. We look forward to providing our community with progress updates on the construction throughout the project so you can know what to expect.

The construction is not expected to interfere with our regularly scheduled Chabad & Preschool calendar and events. However, parking on our campus will be limited as soon as construction begins.

We are very grateful to our next-door neighbor, the Horizons building, for generously offering their parking lot for our use throughout the duration of the construction. For larger events, our community is welcome to park on the nearby Publix which is a very short walk from campus. Your continued support and involvement are crucial, and we appreciate your patience as we embark on this exciting endeavor together.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, we will be hosting a grand community-wide "Ground-Breaking Celebration" on January 19th at 9:00 AM. Please mark your calendars for this special event, where we will formally celebrate the onset of construction and share the joy of this significant achievement.

We still need $1.5 million to reach our goal for the Big Build, and invite our community to partner with us to reach the finish line.

Every donation counts.

If you have not yet had the chance to donate, we welcome your support. Every additional donation will now go towards completing Phase 3 of our fundraising campaign which will bring us to the Big Build finish line!  www.chabadnaples.com/buildthefuture

We are SO excited for 2024 and the future ahead. We are hopeful to complete the final fundraising Phase 3 in 2024 and look forward to sharing more in the weeks and months ahead.

May we all be blessed in 2024 with a year filled with light, love, abundance, and personal and communal growth.

Thanks to YOU, our community will continue to move forward with strength!

With our deepest appreciation,

Let’s keep the momentum going! www.chabadnaples.com/buildthefuture

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Arthur M Seigel

 

Here's what's on my heart lately

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Dear Friends, 

It’s perhaps the most famous Jewish word, and it’s how I feel every time I’m surrounded by our community. 

It’s that feeling that I’m not alone, and nor are you; it’s that little glimmer of hope felt deep inside on the very darkest of days; and it’s that overwhelming joy that makes me jump up and dance with you to celebrate everything we have together. 

It’s when we come together, and despite all the darkness out there, we raise our cups to the future and cheer — L’Chaim! To life!

When I’m together with the Chabad of Naples and Jay and Patty Naples Preschool of the Arts Arts communities, I know that everything will be good, we’re bringing life!

It’s been twenty years of bringing life, full of light and love, to our community. It’s L’Chaim to the seniors, to the children, to the classes, and to the amazing programs. 

In hurricanes, after tragedy on Israel, and in the midst of rising antisemitism, we only grow stronger and louder in our passion for life, in our strength as a community. We’re always there for each other because our community knows that we will always go L’Chaim! To life!

Today I ask you to continue helping Chabad of Naples & Naples Preschool of the Arts to flourish, to fire up that passion, and to help us keep giving. 

Tomorrow we will read the Torah portion about our forefather Jacob’s passing. The portion is called “Vayechi - and he lived.” 

Jacob's life was the impact he made and left in this world through his actions and through his children. In his passing he left a legacy of life. 

Make a L’Chaim with me. Donate generously to our campaign (we're at 66%), we need your support to keep Chabad Naples & Naples Preschool of the Arts shining in Naples. www.chabadnaples.com/buildthefuture

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

In the Face of Darkness: The unstoppable Force of Light

 Dear Friend,

There is one word that comes to mind and that I am craving to see more of: light.
 
The Bible tells us that the first thing that was created by G-d was light. “And the Lord said let there be light, and there was light." 
 
Why is light so important that it was created before anything else? 
 
In recent weeks and months the answer has become clearer to me: In a world that sometimes feels so dark and depressing, the greatest antidote is bringing light into it. “Let there be a light!” is an eternal mandate given to each of us to bring light into our hearts, homes and community. 
 
There is darkness in your heart? Let there be light! There is darkness in your home? Let there be light! There is darkness in your community? Guess what…let there be light! 
 
When dark forces wreak havoc on those we love, we can feel powerless to stop them. And while we may not be able to prevent darkness from occurring, we are far from powerless to keep it from spreading.
 
There is an old Hasidic expression that you don’t fight darkness with sticks and stones; you fight darkness by lighting a match. Of course, the IDF needs to take up arms and defend themselves, and fight for Israel and for the Jewish people and for the world, and eradicate evil. But what can those of us who are thousands of miles away do? How do we ignite the light that dispels pervasive darkness?
 
Light is relevant every day of the year, as we always need to add brightness to our world. Indeed, we have the mitzvah to light Shabbat candles every Friday night, but let’s be honest; there’s no better time to focus on light than during the holiday of lights: Chanukah. We start off by lighting one solitary candle and then each day we add another, thus flooding more light into the darkness of winter.
 
And there is another powerful reason that light is coming to mind: 
Very soon after the horrific events of October 7th, my colleagues and I travelled to our Holy Land of Israel for a mission to support the families who suffered loss and displacement due to the inhumane actions of Hamas. We brought with us 25 duffle bags full of bullet proof vests, iPads, toys, and other essential items to aid in their time of crisis. We also deployed much-needed funds raised from our community.
 
During our time there, we saw a tremendous amount of darkness. My heart breaks just from thinking about the unimaginable loss and devastation we came face to face with. Parents who lost children, children who lost parents. We met people who witnessed the greatest evils imaginable and were now grieving their loss. 
 
At the same time, we witnessed so much light; so much goodness. People who lost so much were full of hope and optimism for the future. They were determined to live and honor the lives and loss of their loved ones. I saw heroes with unbelievable inner strength, and we met people who can never be defeated because their fire and light can never be extinguished. 
 
I came with the intention to bring light and I returned brighter than ever. Even my own sadness and heaviness was melted and warmed in the brightness of the light I witnessed. 
 
Yes friends, that is why light was created first––because it is the most potent force on earth. Nothing can get in the way of the light. 
 
Nothing can get in the way of goodness, of justice, of our beloved Israel and our incredible nation. Light will always win.
 
Yet, there is much darkness, despair and despondency out there in our world now. The hypocrisy of so many people in the face of the loss of Jewish life is maddening. The evil hate of Jews and their state is terrifying. 
 
So what do we do about it? 
 
You know the answer: “let there be light!” The powers of darkness have nothing on the light of a menorah, the light of Shabbat candles, the light of a kind deed and a loving word. 
 
So here’s a loving suggestion: Light your own menorah this Chanukah and witness the magic of light over darkness for yourself.
 
Come to our public menorah lighting and Chanukah festival and celebrate Jewish pride. Chabad of Naples will be bringing talented Hassdic Rapper Nissim Black to our community. For those who haven't had the pleasure of listening to Nissim, he's truly one of a kind. Nisim is a pure source of joy and light and through hip-hop he raps about love of Israel, Judaism and how both can be a source of strength. 
 
His story of resilience and overcoming obstacles will resonate with everyone regardless of your religion. With thought-provoking, evocative and family-friendly lyrics his music will uplift everyone's spirits.
 
So please, come, enjoy, bring your friends and family. Reserve your spot now and be part of this special celebration.
chabadnaples.com/festival
 
For nearly 4,000 years the Jewish people have strived to be a light unto the nations. We have banded together when times were tough and when the darkness threatened to swallow us. Yet we have shined our light and that light has sustained us until today.
 
Do not underestimate the power of your own light. Now is the time to shine it stronger than ever.
 
Let there be light in our world! Amen.

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos 

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