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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Rebbitzin Ettie shares personal thoughts in response

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

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

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

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

Shabbat Shalom!❤️

Ettie Zaklos 

 

 

 

 

 

THANKSGIVING COMES IN TWO PARTS: THANKS AND GIVING

THANKSGIVING COMES IN TWO PARTS: THANKS AND GIVING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are grateful to you today and every day.

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

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

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

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

Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

 

I LOVE CHABAD

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❤️❤️❤️

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

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

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

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

I hope Giuliana’s message touches you as well.

Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With much love and blessings,  

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Arthur Seigel M.D.  

www.Jewishnaples.com/Relief   

How do we achieve true happiness?

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

Shabbat Shalom and Gut Yontif with Love & Light,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

WELCOMING A NEW YEAR - WITH PRECAUTIONS

Definitely a Rosh Hashanah for the books! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HIGH HOLIDAYS 2020: G-D WILL FIND YOU WHEREVER YOU ARE

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G-d understands all languages.

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

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

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

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

 

THE LEGACY OF SEPTEMBER 11

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THE LEGACY OF SEPTEMBER 11

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

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

 

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

 

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Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

 

GLIDING TROUGH LIFE

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GLIDING TROUGH LIFE
(JUST TAKES A LITTLE HELP FROM FRIENDS)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Take Comfort, Take Comfort, My People

 STORMY WEATHER AHEAD 

 Dear Friends,  

Well dear Friends, it is Florida and in addition to that, do we have to remind ourselves that it is also hurricane season? Not likely! As we sit glued to our computer screens tracking Hurricane Isaias, we notice that it is beginning to pull eastward. Do you have the same inclination that I do, to take my finger and push it off even farther into the Atlantic where it cannot harm anyone?

It may be no coincidence that this weeks we read the Haftorah from Isaiah!  This Shabbat is called the ‘Shabbat of comfort’, based on Isaiah's prophecy: "Take comfort, take comfort, My people", following yesterday’s commemoration of the Temple's destruction on Tishah B'Av.

It may be safe to say that at no point in our adult lives have we felt so confused and vulnerable as we do today, with the virus, violence and political polarization that surrounds us. One of the many silver linings of Corona is our recognition that indeed we're not in control, which is a good first-step to the even more important realization: that someOne is!

The ‘Shabbat of Comfort’ comes right in time to remind us we're not alone. It reminds us someOne is in fact in charge, serving as Comforter in Chief for each of us individually, helping us deal with our individual challenges.

Lately when people express their feelings of utter despair at the current situation I find myself saying: just remember, G-d hasn't left the cockpit!

The first thing we want and pray for is for this pandemic to end, for people to have relief. Yet, our role is also to seek out the silver linings, the personal messages and opportunities the current situation presents to us.  If G-d asks it of us, it means we're up to the challenge.

Stay safe, stay home, and enjoy a beautiful and peaceful Shabbat!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

CELEBRATING 102 WITH SPIRIT AND SPUNK

As the World Famous Chabad of Naples, we are fortunate to have a few National Treasures. One of them is our beloved Ruth Anderson who celebrates (are you ready for this?) her 102nd birthday on July 26th!

Ruth: a huge, MEGA MAZEL TOV to you from the entire Chabad Naples Mishpachah - we love you and wish you incredible blessings and many more years of healthy life!

We often say one is never too young to learn, but at the same time, one is never too old to teach (and learn), and Ruth has taught me some amazing things.

In the early days of this pandemic, instead of wallowing in self-pity at being isolated at home, Ruth kept busy, putting her sewing machine to work and creating face masks which she donated to others.

This is but one small example of her generosity and philanthropy. With her glowing smile, she is a wonderful example of how a daily positive and optimistic attitude and a sense of humor keep one mentally alert.

At dinner a few years ago, I asked Ruth to share her longevity ’secret’. She then told me that she writes an e-mail to G-d every night, thanking him. I recently reminded her about that and she said she still does it.

Perhaps we can all send Ruth a gift by doing the same thing - thanking G-d for all that we do have and for all that He has done for us.

If you would care to send a personal message to this remarkable woman please send me an email, I would be happy to pass it along to her for you.

With love and blessings,

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Visualize a greater tomorrow.

Dear Friends,

Ten brilliant scholars stood outside the Rebbe's study. They were waiting for Rabbi Schneur Zalman, Chabad's first Rebbe (1745-1813), to share a mystical discourse. When the door opened, they all entered the room except for Rabbi Isaac. He was much younger than the others and held back.

The Rebbe asked, "Who remains outside?" Someone responded, "A young man."

"A young man can become an older man," the Rebbe replied, and Rabbi Isaac rejoined the group.

Later on, Rabbi Isaac related that the Rebbe's comment energized him with a profound psycho-spiritual boost. In the Rebbe's words, he had heard, "Don't be limited by your present capacity. You have an older, wiser man inside of you. Unlock him. Live the future now."

From that day, Rabbi Isaac's deeper potential began to unfold. His firm self-awareness, and his profound confidence in the Rebbe's guidance, triggered an internal transformation. He walked away from the Rebbe's room, able to see past today's limitations and live tomorrow's potential.

Each of us has the opportunity to gift ourselves with the awareness of our own potential. Give yourself a frame of reference as to who you could be: "Identify someone who you feel is successful, experienced, accomplished. And remember, that is who YOU could be. 

Look around. See what's possible. Visualize a greater tomorrow.
Live it today.

Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Our world is full of Mona Lisa’s

I'm sure you need no reminder that this is the July 4th weekend.

Things are different this year, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate: just being alive and able to enjoy some of those magnificent sunrises and sunsets is a real bonus! Being able to start the day enjoying the glory of the morning and end it with a sky so rich in color it seems unreal, fills the heart with joy.  

In between those two spectacular events, let's sit --- socially-spaced with friends and family and discuss all the wonderful freedoms we enjoy in America and how we should never take them for granted. At the same time, thinking of all the hours of stress and distress we have endured recently - I am sure we can contrast every negative event with a thought of a random act of kindness performed for us or by us. 

In 1911, the Louvre Museum in Paris fell victim to one of the world’s all-time great art heists when Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” was stolen. It remained missing for two years and in that time, more people went to stare at the blank space where it had previously resided, than had viewed the masterpiece in the previous twelve years! 

Human nature reveals so much. All too often, we fail to appreciate precious realities in our midst. Yet when they are taken from us, we become painfully aware of the ‘blank space’ in our lives. 

The truth is that our world is full of Mona Lisa’s, countless blessings that grace us daily, yet all too often we are oblivious to them … 

The Midrash asks what the definition is of a non-spiritual person? Answer: someone who is not alive to the wonder of G-d’s creation. 

If you have the awareness to thank G-d for the ‘Mona Lisa’s’ in your life, you are going to be alive with spirituality, let’s endeavor to collectively do this rather than focus on the blank spaces. 

Prayer reminds us that there is an abundance of heaven here on earth. We should open our eyes and treasure the ‘works of art’ all around us.

We are surrounded by many good and giving people and in turn, have many opportunities to return the favor.  After all, America is a land of opportunity - let's make use of that!

Happy Fourth of July - and stay safe!

THANK YOU, REBBE

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It was baschert! Even though Ettie Zaklos and I were very young, we headed in the same direction.

A day doesn’t pass, that we are not reminded of our dear Rebbe, who ignited our passion and gave our lives such meaning.

 

****

Yesterday, marked the 26th Yahrtzeit - anniversary of passing - of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of blessed memory.

The Rebbe's love and care for every person is legendary.

The Rebbe would say, look at another human being not simply as a being but as a soul. If we focus on what makes us the same, the divine spark that is within every one of us, we stop allowing our outer differences to divide us.

The Rebbe made it his life's mission to teach every human being how they can find their connection to G-d and find their enduring path of inspiration. It was never about him.

The Rebbe embraced each person unconditionally and expected us to do the same. In today's world of division, we need this non-judgmental love and acceptance more than ever.

While the Rebbe of blessed memory was a global leader who inspired people worldwide to do good, and the driving force behind the largest Jewish outreach movement in the world, the impact and influence he had on Ettie and me is incalculable.

Young as we were when we arrived in Naples 17 years ago, with little but dreams, hope, faith and will to sustain us, we were determined to make a positive difference and contribution to this community. When we look back now we sometimes wonder if it were the naivete of youth, but on reflection, this is exactly what the Rebbe taught: harness your strength, turn ideas into action, you can and will do it.

The Rebbe's secret of success was the empowering of all those whom he met; he recognized their untapped potential, and expressed his total trust in their abilities.

let us take a moment to think about unleashing our own untapped strengths, as well as making the effort to recognize the unique, blessings, gifts, and talents of our family and friends, and patiently nurturing them.

Thank you Rebbe for infusing such powerful purpose in our lives and countless others.

 

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