Rabbi Fishel's Blog

A longer recap to relive those special moments

Some Historic Evening --


Oh, what a night!

When Chabad Naples celebrated its Tenth Anniversary Year, “An Historic Evening” was the theme.  It was historic in more ways than we can  ever recall, and for those fortunate enough to attend, it was more than spectacular.

The Ritz-Carlton Tiburon was the perfect setting, once again extending its unique hospitality to present excellent cuisine in fabulous settings.  Our thanks to Ed Staros, Vice President and Managing Director of The Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples and his wife Tricia for generously serving as Honorary Event Chairmen of the evening.

The indefatigable team of Dr. Arthur (President of Chabad) and Ellen Seigel was simply masterful in pre-planning and in on-the-spot management of every detail.  They guided a committee of 36 (double chai!) willing and able people who assisted in helping things run smoothly. 

Guests were greeted at the door of the Partners’ Cocktail Reception with beautifully produced informational collages which held photos of the evenings honorees: Liddy and Daniel Sexton for the PreSchool Tribute and Carol Glassman as the Chabad Honoree.

They were guided to meet the Keynote Speaker of the evening, the gracious Mrs. Eva Schloss.  They had their photos taken with Mrs. Schloss and were presented with an autographed copy of her latest book, ’Eva’s Story:  A Survivor’s Tale by the Stepsister of Anne Frank”.

The air was absolutely vibrating with energy and goodwill as everyone feasted on elegant hors d’oeuvres  and enjoyed a heartwarming social hour.

Rabbi Fishel formally opened the evening with a hearty welcome and was followed by Rebbitzin Ettie’s greetings to the family of Chabad Partners. They recalled their first ten years in Naples and how their remarkable success has resulted in their bursting at the seams for space and the need for contributions and funding to enable them to provide the kinds of services needed for the growing community.  There are architectural plans ready for future expansion and everyone was asked to consider a pledge.

Rabbi and Ettie spoke with appreciation of the contributions made by  Liddy and Daniel Sexton and their ongoing  support of Preschool of the Arts, as they presented them with an award.

Dr. Arthur and Ellen Siegel were presented with a token of thanks for their ongoing assistance in co-ordinating the entire evening.

Rabbi Fishel then introduced the 2014 Benefactor/Honoree Carol Glassman, telling how they met, by speaking lovingly with great emotion of her late husband Alex and describing the growth of their ongoing relationship. Rabbi Fishel explained that Carol had not only stepped forward to fund a much-needed classroom for the Preschool in the summer of 2013, but had since decided to accelerate a substantial pledge and donate it to Chabad as soon as possible, rather than as a bequest. The Rabbi and Ettie then presented Carol with a stunning Rosenthal Tzedakah box. In a surprise announcement, he said that Chabad of Naples henceforth would be called “The Alex And Carol Glassman Chabad Naples Jewish Community Center”.

Carol responded with gratitude and thanks, promising, “The best is yet to come.”

The guests were then ushered into a large tent where the crowd swelled to approximately 800, to hear Eva Schloss speak. 

First of all, wishing everyone to participate in the great announcement of the evening, with large screens broadcasting the news on either side of the stage, Rabbi Fishel and Ettie introduced Honoree Carol Glassman and presented her with a beautiful piece of art work.  Once again, she urged others to follow her lead if possible:  “The future is now,” she said, encouraging others to give now rather than wait to leave a bequest.  “Rabbi, the best is yet to come!”  she promised.

The large audience was composed of local residents as well as a group of students from local schools who were given complimentary tickets to attend the event and have an opportunity to hear history first-hand, from a survivor.

After a brief video which showed not only the horrors of the German invasion and the Holocaust, but the origins of the song “Ani Ma’amin”, there was a tribute by two very fine musicians, a pianist and violinist from the Naples Klezmer Group.

Rabbi Fishel introduced Mrs. Eva Schloss, who was greeted by Naples City Councillor Bill Barnett.  He presented Mrs. Schloss with a proclamation and the key to the city.

“You will have trouble getting rid of me,”  she quipped, “now that I have the key.”

She spoke in interview format with Tyler Korn, a local attorney.

The air remained charged but in a different way, as silence fell over the audience and barely anyone moved for almost 90 minutes as Eva told her heart-wrenching story of hiding, betrayal, and survival.

Born in Austria but relocated to Holland during the outbreak of World War 2, Eva and her family were neighbors of the family of Anne Frank, and like the Franks, hid from the Nazis for several years until they were betrayed and taken to a concentration camp. Both her father and her brother were killed and she and her mother suffered unbelievable indignities, starving and terror..

Eva was just 15 and emerged after the war with only her mother, scarred by her experiences, and as she relates, with little will to live.  A neighbor who had suffered similarly, losing his entire immediate family, helped her to focus on living and to try to see the good in people.  That man was Anne Frank’s father, Otto, who later married her mother and thus became her stepfather (and had Anne lived she would have been her stepsister). Otto Frank found his doughter's diary  and claimed that it made him feel as if part of her survived.  

Eva Schloss had promised us a somewhat happy ending to the story, and learning that she had married, had three daughters and lives in London, was that happy ending. 

She then replied to questions from the audience. She is somewhat saddened when she speaks of the senseless brutality and indignities that are still enacted on innocent people today, and reacted with disbelief at recent accounts of books relating to Anne Frank being destroyed in Japanese public libraries. She said she has visited Japan and was always welcomed and people there seemed to honor Anne Frank.

We could all benefit from her final, hopeful words of the evening: 

“We all have to work together to create a happy and safe world.”

she said. 

The evening ended on a cheerier note as Jamey Turner entertained by playing an assortment of Jewish melodies on his Glass Harp -- a collection of crystal glasses filled with different level of water.

As one guest said, “The Tenth Anniversary Celebration was a grand mixture of storytelling. Eva Schloss used the evening to tell her personal story. Chabad’s story was more profound because the meaning won’t appear for years; not until today’s Pre-school children form their public lives.

“The Alex & Carol Glassman Chabad Naples Jewish Community Center and the Preschool of the Arts, through its teachers, is vital to a child’s wellness and a key aspect of the celebration of life that now, because of your decision, is a key part of ‘Where there is love, there is life.’”


As Chabad continues to grow, constantly requiring more space to provide its consistent quality of services and eve ore programs, your help is needed to enable us to continue.  The Partnership Program offers opportunities to give at a level of participation that is comfortable to you.  Please consider joining this growing trend  which will allow us to realize the Chabad dream for you and your families.  "The future is now." For more information, contact us at 239.262.4474 or click here. Thank you!

If you were unable to attend and purchase a book, there are still copies of  “Eva’s Story” for sale -- contact Chabad office.

A short report to relive those special moments


Tenth Anniversary -- A Night to Remember

Chabad’s Historic Tenth Anniversary Celebration will go down as a night to remember.  At the Ritz-Carlton Tiburon the evening began with a beautiful cocktail party for Chabad Naples Partners, during which Rabbi Fishel and Ettie welcomed everyone and introduced Liddy and Daniel Sexton, recipients of the Preschool Tribute.  Rabbi Fishel then described his meeting with Carol Glassman and her late husband Alex, and recalled how she had offered to fund a Preschool classroom when the need arose.  In addition, he announced that in honor of her continued assistance and substantial gift,  Chabad of Naples will now be known as “The Alex And Carol Glassman Chabad Naples Jewish Community Center”.

Thanks were given to President Art Siegel and his wife Ellen for their devotion and hard work in  organizing the event along with their committee.

Over 800 guests then joined the party to hear keynote speaker, Mrs. Eva Schloss (stepsister of Anne Frank). Among them were local students who had been given tickets for the event.

Wishing to share all the excitement with the crowd, Rabbi Fishel and Ettie once again greeted everyone, and announced the new name for the Chabad Center. 

Naples City Councilman Bill Barnett welcomed Mrs. Schloss and presented her with a key to the city.

A brief video showed the horrors of the German invasion and the Holocaust, and also the origins  of “Ani Ma’amin”. Two musicians, a pianist and violinist from the Naples Klezmer Group played the song.

In interview format with attorney Tyler Korn asking the questions, Eva Shloss spoke about the terrible experiences she endured during World War 2, hiding out, being betrayed and finally surviving, as most of Anne Frank’s family did not. Her “happy ending” to the story was that Anne’s father Otto Frank married her mother, and that she herself had married and had three daughters.

As Chabad Naples continues to grow, constantly requiring more space to provide its consistent quality of services and  programs, your help is needed to enable us to continue.  The Partnership Program offers opportunities to give at a level of participation that is comfortable to you.  Please consider joining this growing trend which will allow us to realize the Chabad Naples dream for you and your families. "The future is now." For more information, contact:  

Spread the Joy!

Spread the joy --


There is a powerful story of the Rebbe Of Blessed Memory, who was visited by a leader of a national organization who wanted to do something quite expansive to honor the memory of the six million Jews who lost their lives during the Holocaust.  He had the idea just before Passover one year, to advertise on a grand scale that every home should have an empty chair at the family Passover Seder/dinner  to honor one person -- and thereby honor the six million.

The man went to the Rebbe to inform him of his grandiose campaign, and although the Rebbe seemed quite appreciative of his efforts, it was obvious that something was amiss.  The Rebbe complimented him on his idea but further suggested that instead of having an empty chair, one more person be invited to the table,  one who might not otherwise have an opportunity to attend a Seder.  In other words:  we have to remember both the living and those who are not. It is also our responsibility to act and instill, to reach out to others so that they may feel special.

This is the message of our Tenth Anniversary celebration, and why we have chosen to bring Eva Schloss: to teach and inspire our young so that they in turn can become leaders and pass their knowledge and inspiration to others. In an atmosphere infused with love and laughter – and through the mediums of art, music and dance – we expose our little ones to the wonders of nature, to the adventures of learning and to the joys of their heritage… But more than imparting knowledge and information, it's about celebrating the uniqueness and individuality of each perosn/child… I think the inimitable Dr. Seuss captured the essence of Chabad Naples’ philosophy of education best when he whimsically wrote: “Today you are you, that is truer than true; there is no one alive who is Youer than you”… To that I would add: “If we have anything to do with it, we’ll see to it that the ‘you-ness’ of you is sure to shine through!”

We look forward to greeting you personally tonight.

With love and blessings.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie.



265 Anne Frank books vandalized - My thoughts

Turning the light on the unknown ---


If you have ever had the opportunity to visit either Anne Frank's home in Amsterdam, or the Holocaust Museum here in Naples, you will not wonder why, when presented with the opportunity, we chose to invite Anne Frank's step-sister Mrs. Eva Schloss to be our guest speaker at our Tenth Anniversary celebration. And now, over today's newswires, we learn of the senseless destruction of library books. 

Hate-based vandalism is usually a product of fear, and fear is usually a by-product of facing the unknown.

As the news of 265 Anne Frank books, “The Diary of a Young Girl” being vandalized in Tokyo libraries sweeps across the world, one cannot help but wonder what would motivate such a senseless act of destruction. In addition, books referring to Anne Frank have also been ripped and torn at 31 public municipal libraries in Tokyo since January.

The news has been met with emotions ranging from disgust to confusion as one country after another questions these senseless acts.

Anne Frank’s Diary is the most widely read book of the Holocaust, documenting the two years Anne and her family spent hiding in a concealed apartment in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam during World War 2. After her family was betrayed and deported, Anne died at age 15 in a German concentration camp in 1945. Only her father, Otto Frank, survived and published her diary.

While Japan thoroughly investigates these acts being labeled as “hate crimes”, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, believes "... the geographic scope of these incidents strongly suggests an organized effort to denigrate the memory of the most famous of the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered by the Nazis in the Second World War Holocaust.

"I know from my many visits to Japan how much Anne Frank is studied and revered by millions of Japanese. Only people imbued with bigotry and hatred would seek to destroy Anne's historic words of courage, hope and love in the face of impending doom," said Cooper. "We are calling on Japanese authorities to step up efforts to identify and deal with the perpetrators of this hate campaign."

Here in Naples, coincidentally, we just happen to be practicing ‘preventive maintenance’, with our Historic Evening’s presentation of a Conversation  with Eva Schloss, step-sister of Anne Frank. Knowledge and enlightenment, information and literally ‘turning the light on’ the unknown can do a lot to dispel the latent fears and misinformation that exist about the Holocaust and its few remaining survivors even today. Having survived this terrible experience, Mrs. Schloss speaks candidly in her own words, but without hate and negativity, hoping to overcome worldwide bigotry and violence and promote world peace through education.

An Historic Evening, Monday, February 24.

Life Olympics

 Life Olympics


While everyone is focusing on the Olympics it might be a good time to think about how we play the game -- our daily game of life.  We often hear that how we play the game is much more important than winning and that’s why often the trip is much more important than the destination.

Simple question:  how are you living your life?

As we drive around Naples paying our usual visits and completing some errands, it’s amazing to see how determined everyone is to get places in a hurry, and often at the risk of anyone’s safety. How do you set out to reach your goals, and at what price?  Are you so focused on the destination, that you miss the beauty of learning and discovery along the way? If trees are obscuring your view of the forest, maybe it’s time to reevaluate. 

I watched two children who had been building an elaborate sand castle by the sea. The castle had gates and towers and moats. What a huge and utterly neat creation! But, just when the children had nearly finished their project, a wave came and washed away all their work.

I expected the children to burst into tears, devastated by what had happened to their beautiful castle. But they surprised me. Instead of crying in protest, they ran along the shoreline, laughing and holding hands, and sat down to build another sand castle.

This is the story of life.

All things in our lives, all the complicated structures we spend so much time and energy building, are built on sand. Our present recession has created  a  challenge but the most resilient have met it head-on.

 Sooner or later, the waves will come along and try to knock down what we have worked so hard to build up. When this happens, only the person who has somebody’s hand to hold will be able to laugh and endure.

 Throughout the rough and tough times,  our relationships with people who are not 'fair-weather friends'  will last.

Do you have real relationships? Real friends? Someone whose hand you can hold? Someone who is there for you when you fall?

Sometimes we can learn a lot from children who live so very much 'in the moment'. Occasionally we have to set aside our worries and concerns about that 'rainy day' that could occur in the future, and invest some quality time in the present.

As we come closer to our Tenth Anniversary celebration, it is a time of reflection. Without the strong Chabad Naples family bonds and relationships we have built over the years, our foundation would have been as weak as that of the sand castle. Our real building and structure is what we have created among us, the partners & friends of Naples Chabad -- but that is not what it's all about. We have always had the deep bonds of friendship to support us and carry us over the rough times on a day-to-day basis. We have tried in turn, to be here for you, our family, and respond in the same way. Our real solid building and structure, is what we have created among us, the friends & partners of Naples Chabad.

Would it surprise you to know that we have no absolute destination in mind?  That's right:  Chabad is a journey without end, a lifelong challenge of bringing learning, love and friendship to the community. Join us for the ride.

Harry Chapin’s song, 'The Cat's in the Cradle', never fails to move me when I hear it. It speaks about a child being born to a father who is too busy to give him what he needs and craves most – himself. The lyrics say, “But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay. He learned to walk while I was away. And he was talking 'fore I knew it, and as he grew, He'd say, 'I'm gonna be like you, Dad. You know I'm gonna be like you."'

And the refrain, "When you coming home, Dad?"

"I don't know when, But we'll get together then. You know we'll have a good time then." 

But often the “then” never comes.

In your daily life, take the time to enjoy the real important things -- enjoy the game and forget about the score. Set aside some time to come out and celebrate with us on February 24th -- your presence would mean a lot to me and Ettie.



Don't forget what's at the heart ---

February is National Heart Month,  and what better time to examine the heart of Chabad. As you may know already, (and a little redundancy in the right place doesn't hurt) the word “Chabad” is a Hebrew acronym for the three intellectual faculties of chochmah: wisdom; binah: comprehension; da’at: knowledge.

We recently gave a copy of Sue Fishkopp's book 'The Rebbe's Army' to someone to read. and we were promptly told that it should be 'required reading' for anyone coming through our doors. It's a very readable and highly recommended layman's examination of Chabad life in America. 
Many people wonder what motivates and drives young people, such as Ettie and me, to leave family, friends, and a familiar way of life behind us, strike out and start life over, bringing the light and heart of Chabad to Florida, Alaska, or one of 75  countries in the world. As the author points out,  this is not a part time job or a hobby -- this is our life, what we have chosen to do for a lifetime--we love it. The shluchim , or emissaries as we are known, are in it for the duration.

When the Rebbe and leader of the Chabad movement passed away in 1994, dubious bystanders waited for either some kind of power struggle  for his position or the decline of the movement. They must have been disappointed that neither occurred, and today Chabad is stronger, larger, and just as  committed. 
If the ground isn't fertile and receptive, the seeds won't grow.  We merely present our message and people like you relate to and embrace what is meaningful to your life. 
As we approach our Tenth Anniversary celebration on February 24, we are gratified to note how many hearts, and lives, we seem to have touched. It is truly humbling to Ettie and me to have been welcomed and accepted as we began this new chapter of our lives.  It is with great humility that we observe what we have accomplished, putting our hearts and souls behind every word and every action. 
At a recent conference for Chabad-Lubavitch Women Emissaries  the guest speaker, Chanie Lipskar of Bal Harbor, FL was relating how, when the Rebbe sent her and her husband on their mission many years ago, she was overwhelmed and responded that she wasn't really sure she was up to the challenge-- only 20 years old, so young, inexperienced, and alone.  The Rebbe replied: "I am surely going with you, but it will be with joy."
Perhaps that is a large part of what keeps our commitment and devotion to you, our Naples Chabad family, afire.

Click here  

At age 83 is eager to bring messages of hope

Without hopes and dreams, human beings are unfulfilled. How can one survive without healthy goals for the future, and without hope for overcoming adversity at any time in one's life?

As The Chabad Center of Naples approaches its Tenth Anniversary Year in Naples, some of the activities and events are testaments to hopes and dreams for people from diverse backgrounds.

Ten years ago my wife Ettie and I left our families and friends behind, arrived in Naples with our infant son Mendel, and youthful dreams of establishing a Jewish Community center that would light up the community and attract people to it as a welcoming  haven for educational, religious, and social events.  As you can imagine, we started with only a dream and strong ideals. Now,  The Naples Chabad Center has grown and flourishes in its large, cheerful renovated location with almost daily activities for people of all ages and an award-winning Preschool of the Arts. It took dedication, hopes, partners, and dreams -- and a lot of hard work by a lot of people.

Is it any wonder that the guest speaker chosen to mark this occasion, would be Mrs. Eva Schloss, a woman who lived through one of the most horrific times of the last century, and not only survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, but at age 83 is eager and well-equipped to bring messages of hope and doing the right thing to the world? Eva Schloss survived, while her stepsister, the well-known Anne Frank did not. Their families had been neighbors and after the war, her mother married Frank's father. Although it took her a while to identify her mission, Eva Schloss now speaks to select groups about her experiences.

Her sensational story and insightful message remind us that life is precious and fragile, that the creative spirit is stronger than fear, that the power of good is immeasurable, and that love makes a difference.

Liddy and Dan Sexton, through a Trust created by Virginia and Charles Jacobsen, have consistently supported the Preschool of the Arts and enabled it to present exceptional programs for children in its beautiful facility.  Just this year, Carol Glassman donated a new classroom that was needed, in memory of her late husband Alex.  Aware of the first-rate education made available to the children, these donors are being honored for helping Chabad Naples realize its hope and dreams.

I look forward to seeing you all on the 24th. 

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos



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