Rabbi Fishel's Blog



If you have ever built your own home from scratch, you know how important it is to have a budget and even more important, to stick to it. Penny details soon add up to dollars and before you know it, you can break the bank. But you realize, these seemingly unimportant details can make or destroy the result. Just as when we build relationships, the screws, nuts and bolts, like the small, day- to- day activities, put on the final touches and create the beauty. 

This week's Torah reading contains details just like this, enumerating all the items that went into the first home that became a community center.  We learn that the Torah is always economical with words, doesn't exaggerate and isn't redundant -- so why all the details?  You might think I have an unstoppable hook shot on the basketball court, but Mr. Rabbi Handyman I am not! I may have little skill when it comes to hammering a nail straight, however, I am passionate about building to endure, and understand what is needed to create a sound foundation for a lasting home:  it's the effort of communal coming together, the painting, the schlepping, The Men’s Club,  The Women’s Circel, the challah making, the stories, the Shabbat meals that build the solid foundation of the annual celebrations and all our other events and activities at the Chabad Naples Jewish community center. These are our details, our hinges and nails and doorknobs. 

We are celebrating Chabad's 10th Anniversary, and while we look around and say "Wow! “at all we have accomplished, what we are really celebrating is the sum of the parts of all the nuts, screws, and bolts of community effort.  We are celebrating our very own Super Bowl success, and we are all on the same team here.  We are all Payton Mannings and Russell Wilsons of the Chabad Naples team, prepared to lead us to even more victorious heights.   

So, to honor our 10th Anniversary as it should be celebrated, we want you because it just won't be the same without all the members of our team.  The response is amazing -- come and be part of this incredible evening.  Join us today!

If you enjoyed this message please share it with your friends-- these tiny details add up. Never underestimate the power of one, of one of anything or anybody:  each and every one of you is of major and equal importance to us.  
Come and be a part of our history!

Wishing you a Super Shabbas,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Ten is a BIG Number -- Ten is ... a Decade!


Ten is a BIG Number -- Ten is ... a Decade!


Just as we are about to celebrate our Tenth Year Anniversary -- my wife left me!  Hold on now,  -- Ettie leaves me for a week every year at this time, to attend the International Chabad Conference.  This gives Ettie an opportunity to recharge her Preschool batteries by networking with some of the most energetic and dynamic women and sharing new ideas and techniques in education. And lucky me -- I get to make the BIG decisions with the four beautiful children -- is it Cheerios or toast for breakfast? It also reminds me of just how much a wife and mother does:  the love, the attention -- and a lot of hard work. With one month to go to the tenth anniversary, I salute my partner Ettie, and all the partners of Chabad. Thank you.

We have so very much to be thankful for as we approach this decade-marker.  We could not have achieved this alone. We are honoring the development of this journey we are taking together, and these are some of the people who make it possible:  Carol Glassman who receives the 2014 Chabad Naples Benefactor Award. She was the first journalist who wrote an article about Chabad in Naples and has continued to keep us 'famous' and to contribute to our goals. The Sexton Family,  for their involvement as parents and contributors who have enhanced our Number One Preschool of the Arts, will receive the Preschool Tribute. I look forward to greeting you all personally on Monday, February 24. Click here to view our mini-site!

In the past I have quoted a beautiful, relevant piece from the Talmud that tells how a man brings wheat into the home but it is the woman who fashions it into bread and cake. It doesn't mean that man alone brings home the wheat; it means that the women turn the kernels of dreams into reality.  My wife Ettie helped me turn the hopes and dreams and ideas I had into something real and solid.  Ettie:  for your loyalty, dedication, devotion, friendship and love I give you my gratitude and so much more.

The 'other woman' in my life gave me the greatest gift I could ever receive as a young boy:  my most precious childhood memories are of my mother sitting by my bed and reading to me -- she gave me her presence.  Not presents, but presence.  She concentrated her entire being into those moments and was completely there for me. Mom, I love you!

Anniversaries and special commemorative days set aside to honor mothers and fathers are always fun, but the love and support we receive from all of these special people is unconditional and we should not limit expressing our appreciation to them on only one day of the  year.  

Yesterday, marked the 26th yahrzeit - anniversary of passing - of our beloved Rebbetzin, Chaya Mushka Schneerson, of righteous memory; wife of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of blessed memory.

Our daughter Chaya Mushka is named after this very special woman, as are thousands of other young women who walk in her path and try to live up to her shining example. Her yahrzeit is occasion to be inspired to grow spiritually, for all of us, and especially for Jewish women. Click here to learn more about this extraordinary woman.

Wishing you all a beautiful Shabbat,

 Rabbi Fishel Zaklos

wearing rose-colored glasses

Dear Friends,

Recently I was scanning some articles on poverty in America (which seem to be in all the media) when I began to consider the  forms poverty can take -- poverty of the spirit, to be exact. Just as the very poor are left to sort through the trash, rags and tatters of their lives, the spiritually impoverished must sort through the daily 'trash' that is encountered from the media, relationships and occasionally invades  their lives. The people we most admire do not just sweep their sad trash under the carpet, or look for someone to blame for their hardships, but confront life as it happens and as one trite saying goes,  "make lemonade from those lemons." There are many overworked and hackneyed expressions that seem geared to make us pull up our metaphorical socks and deal with what life brings us:  "the glass is half full, not half empty!" But how many people do you know, respect and admire who have really faced difficulty yet had the moral strength to carry on in a positive way?

Two days ago was a very special day in the Chassidic Chabad calendar as it marks the passing of the previous rebbe and the day that the Rebbe of Blessed Memory began as the Rebbe of Chabad. As a student of that Rebbe, what I admired most was his ability to confront and deal with situations. You don't have to go through life wearing rose-colored glasses or be a simpering Pollyanna, but a good ATTITUDE can do so much! His motto  in Yiddish was: Tracht Gut Vet Zein Gut, which translated is: think good and it will be good.

Our guest speaker this week, on Thursday, January 16th at 7 p.m., is Devorie Kreiman.  If anyone has had to work towards building a positive attitude of greater faith and joy by transcending sadness and loss, she has. Come and hear Devorie's  inspirational words as she shares her story, 'Guiding My Heart to Joy".

Enjoy the rest of the week.


Rabbi Fishel


Dear Friends

Sometimes, we are only as 'stuck' as we allow ourselves to be.  What does that mean?

While looking at the news I want to say to my friends in the frozen north:  stay safe and warm! With a blizzard raging outside, cars are 'stuck' all over the place;  kids are 'stuck' at home -- it's a mess!

We might be 'stuck' in a job we don't love, or in a mediocre relationship, or be faced with a situation or challenge we wish would just go away.

We could all be 'stuck' in different ways.  Like snow, most personal disappointments in isolation seem rather small, certainly manageable, at least tolerable; it's the accumulation that wears us down. Snow is the same: any handful is powerless against us-it's the buildup that neutralizes us and could freeze us to inaction.

Judaism teaches that everything (yes, everything) we experience is presented to us as an opportunity to take a lesson in our life's mission of serving our Maker.

So how do we prepare for it, overcome it (get unstuck) and grow from it? The first step is information. The weathermen told us it was coming-they told us to get home early, stock up on food and stay off the roads. The experts, generations of Torah scholars, the Rebbe, they warn us about the ferocity of life during these times and the toll it takes on the unprepared. Arrogantly, some think themselves stronger than nature, able to defy its might and thus take no precautions. It's really a lot easier, like the proverbial Boy Scouts, to be prepared:  experience should tell us that at times we need just a little more ammunition than what we can supply ourselves. We need to listen, to take advice, and to stock up no just physically but emotionally; Those stories about not fooling around with Mother Nature may not be just myths.

 We must be attentive and appreciate the value of planning ahead, by understanding the consequences of our behavior today. We must ready our supplies, invest in mitzvot now so that we can enjoy the benefits as the blizzards strike.

 Shabbat Shalom

 Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

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