Printed from

Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Rumor has it, that he is quite good.

 barney IMG_4603.JPG

Dear Friends,

The hero of this week’s Torah portion is Noah. Well, the thing about Noah was, he was just a real, ordinary fellow. And that is the invaluable contribution of Noah: he did not graduate as valedictorian of his school; he did not get a full scholarship to Oxford; he was not a tycoon or bestselling author. He was not a guru. He was just a guy trying to do the right thing when everyone around him descended to greed and apathy. And look what he accomplished! He saved the world.

You know, when we look around us at the people who influenced us the most in our lives, more often than not, they are the Noahs - the real, ordinary people who are more interested in doing the right thing at the right time rather than attracting a lot of attention to their personal achievements. One of my 'personal Noahs' is Barney Edelkind, who just happens to be sponsoring the kiddush this week, in loving memory of his dear mother Raizel.

For Barney, it's a double-header, as he is also celebrating his birthday -- only 89 years young! A great opportunity to wish him many blessings for good health, a great golf swing, and let's make plans for the 100th birthday bash!

In the last nine years he has he has taught me so much. His passion, his daily zest for life (and his golf game!). Rumor has it, that he is quite good.  The most powerful thing I have heard, was his admission that for 80 years he hadn’t learned the Torah, he just read the words; but for the last nine years Chabad has inspired him to  learn it, challenge it, and ask questions about it.

Barney is a huge fan of basketball and we discuss our Heat team. During one of the big games I called him just to chat about it and he said his screen was in front of him and that the Chumash was there during commercials.

"What Chumash?" I asked.

He said, "Not the hummus, but the Chumash, the bible!"

Barney comes to shul every week and in the few hours after the Kiddush, where we challenge, ask questions, learn, talk about the lessons and the inspirations, he delves and forces me as a rabbi to learn and internalize the learning. I’m inspired by his passion to be a student, his thirst for the truth and knowledge, but even more so by his kindness.

Nine years ago when all that we had was services he said, "I want to throw a lunch in loving memory of my mother, who every Friday would make a beautiful Shabbat." He personally wanted to make the lunch. Nine years later his passion has only intensified and he has been here for the last two days making the Kiddush so all can enjoy. I love seeing how he makes sure everyone gets doubles and has his favorite dishes. I know his mom is smiling from on high. May her neshamah be comforted.

Thank you Barney for teaching us all at Chabad what it means to live life to the fullest and what it means to show respect for our parents.  In another nine years I know you will be doing the same thing, but at least I hope you'll let me help you in the kitchen because the Chabad Naples family continues to grow by leaps and bounds! Don't worry, I'll take care of the hummus!

Whether it's the golf swing, a page in the Torah, or doing the right thing, let's all find a 'personal Noah' to emulate, one who inspires us to reach out and embrace a community.

Wishing you all a great Shabbas,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos


Will our children have the same hustle?

Daer Friends,

Do you see a 'Digital Detox' in your future?

While chatting with a dear family recently, questions arose about the future: would their children appreciate simple conversation, looking others in the face, eye to eye, without being glued to the screens of I-Phones and other electronics? Will our children have the same hustle? The same work ethic? Will our children have the same appreciation for quality family time together around a dinner table? You know we all have these questions and concerns and they are real.

So there is another big concept: “scalability". According to Wikipedia: 'Functional scalability' is defined as "the ability to enhance the system by adding new functionality at minimal effort." When dealing with children, or marriage, or with yourself, you need to devote maximum effort to every single day-- there is no algorithm or exotic terminology for hard work to arrive at a happy conclusion!

And then I came upon this beautiful excerpt and I thought you’d enjoy it as well. What do you think about it?

Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Cisco, meditates every night and takes Saturday "to paint and write poetry, turning off her phone or leaving it in the other room." She considers this a "digital detox". In her previous role as Cisco's head of engineering, Warrior oversaw 22,000 employees, and she told the New York Times in 2012 that taking time to meditate and unplug helped her to manage it all.

"It's almost like a reboot for your brain and your soul," she said.  "It makes me much calmer when I'm responding to details (or e-mails) later."

By any other name, it still sounds like "Shabbat"!

It is interesting that "Warrior" is her actual surname, as the warrior in today's society, male or female, is someone who recognizes the need for balance in everyday life. The warrior is strong, recognizing circumstances, limitations and goals.

Can you imagine a family Digital Detox Day? 

Perhaps we all need this double dose of both recognition and detoxification, as we gear up for the Jewish New Year. Let's give this gift to ourselves and our family.

Wishing you a good shabbas,

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos

We embraced and continued our conversation

 You may have to turn up the volume to hear everything.


Dear Friends,

"Coincidence is G-d's way of remaining anonymous. " Albert Einstein

Lately I had an opportunity to put this challenging quote to a test.

On Sunday, I was traveling light by air on a one-day trip. I was carrying with me only theTraveler's Prayer.  As the plane landed and came to a halt, as usual the application of the brakes brought a few items shifting around on the floor.  I felt something at my feet and could not have been more surprised when I looked down and discovered a Hebrew book.  Not just any book, but one that is generally read at the graveside of The Rebbe of blessed memory. It contains  blessings for one's family and I have prayed for the entire community many times using this book. BUT -- on this day I did not have this book or any other book with me.

I turned around and met the eyes of the gentleman in the photo.  "Is this yours?"  I asked.

"Yes, yes it is mine. Please, may I have it?"

"Sure," I replied, and then I asked if he could tell me a little about why and how he had it in his possession.

He said he was just coming from his sister's house and she was inspired by the Rebbe of blessed memory many years ago. She had given the book to him  as a gift that morning.  She had not said  much more than she had been  inspired by a rabbi in about 1991 and she told him just to have this and pray from it (there is also English in it).

We embraced and continued our conversation  in the baggage claim area of the airport.

There is a lot more to the story (when things like this happen, there always is).

I spoke to his sister as well and she said we should continue doing goodness and kindness because that's what the Rebbe was all about.

My dear friends: you know the saying,  "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."  That was the Rebbe of blessed memory, my mentor and inspiration. He brought light to this world.  Here we have a non-Jewish woman giving Hebrew books to her brother and others and spreading goodness because of the Rebbe. 

Now you tell me:  was this a coincidence?

Wishing you a blessed Shabbas,

 Rabbi Fishel Zaklos




My thoughts on Ettie Receiving the Shine Award from Gov. Scott!

Dear Friends,

In any given week if you asked me about the work we do with the children at Chabad Naples, I would summon as much modesty  as possible and tell you about the shining example set by my wife Ettie. This week we were justifiably proud when Ettie received the SHINE Award for education, presented by Governor Rick Scott and the Cabinet. It's a very special award given to educators who go above and beyond the norm to make a positive effect on the lives of children in Florida. As Ettie's husband, I am even prouder of her achievements (and maybe now I won't have to get that shiny necklace I promised her ---- just kidding!) If you didn't see it on the news or in the newspaper, click here:


Before receiving the award, at the Governor's invitation Ettie shared a few words with the Cabinet and a room packed with people from all over Florida, about the significance of the event. She said how humbled she was by the honor and went on to talk briefly about SHINE, and how by accepting the award she will continue with G-ds help to bring light and to continue making an impact on children.  Every one of us has a lamp, to bring the light of knowledge to our children. 


To add to the excitement of this special event, this morning as I walked into an office building I was approached by a complete stranger (hard to believe, I know --) a Neapolitan who said, "Your wife is beautiful."  Well, that's not news -- but then she said, "I saw her on the government channel on Tuesday night after she received the award and her message was powerful."  We continued talking about the importance of education and how it affects our future, and she said how this little talk had inspired her to want to do something for children in her own community.  

Isn't this what it's all about?  I know that Ettie received this award on behalf of all of you, who shone for the last ten years enabling Chabad Naples to shine.

It starts with one little light whose rays slowly spread throughout the entire community, dispelling ignorance and bringing warmth, hope, knowledge and enlightenment. Let's keep our beacon shining!

Have a shining weekend,

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos


Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.