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Rabbi Fishel's Blog


Each year we set 'imaginary mental goals', trying to make our successful Purim celebration even better than previous years. Somehow, in 2016 we managed to exceed our own expectations with 250 men, women, and children in costume enjoying circus acts, juggling, face painting, bounce house, arcade games, and delicious dinner. Everyone got into the spirit of the occasion and we are thankful for the amazing people who put this together, starting with my dear wife, Rebbitzin Ettie. She planned this entire event from start to finish, aided by our fantastic Team Londa, Stephanie, Alicia, Hilton, and all the volunteers and our sponsors:  the Levine Family, Steven Goldberg & Melissa Kahn, & Southern Striping.

How sweet it is to see our Chabad family come together once more.preschool pic.jpg

Rabbi Alkabetz says, the reason we send gifts to each other on Purim is to foster feelings of closeness and care, strengthening the mitzvah to “love your neighbor as yourself”, establishing harmony throughout the Jewish People. The only way to defeat the evil ‘Hamans’ of history is to create strong bonds of love and friendship among Jews. When there are divisions, our enemies may have a window of opportunity to (G-d forbid) prevail. If we stand together, nobody can conquer us!

Since Purim is a time for giving, here is an opportunity to encourage everyone to come together and unify as partners to support all the amazing things CHABAD is doing for our community, and to join in the spirit and contribute so we can continue all the amazing programs.

We didn’t know anyone

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. 

mendel and yitzi 2.jpgWhen Ettie Zaklos and I arrived here Mendel was only a little boy and soon he will have his bar mitzvah. 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 frantic days, as our prayers and thoughts go to the victims of terror in Brussels, 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 this Thursday -- 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 on Thursday, March 24th at 6 pm. 
Make your reservations now - space is limited! See you there!

I know my mother reads the weekly messages

mame 3.jpg

I know my mother reads the weekly messages so this would be an amazing opportunity to give her Nachas.  Today is my mother's birthday and to commemorate this event, as it is also the week before Purim, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share just a little bit about this remarkable woman because she inspires me with her powerful love, positive energy, and zest for life. (Of course my Dad does as well, but it's her birthday.)

I want to convey from the depths of my heart how much I recognize and appreciate the tremendous privilege it has been to be raised and mentored by such a truly devoted and sterling woman like my mother. I often wonder where I would be today if it were not for the encouragement and anchors of steel with which my mother, held us as we were growing up.

We know Judaism and the Bible contain nice slogans, but for my mother it's the essence of who she is and what she is all about. She lives her beliefs. She always conducts herself with humility and dignity, and there is always a certain happiness, optimism, and boundless faith emanating from her. She has shown me – time and time again – what it means not to be broken by hardship and deprivation in life, but to live life on a higher level, with faith and dignity, with serenity and equanimity, and above all, with joy and gratitude for every day Hashem gives us on this earth.

Now a parent myself, I see that if I really want to teach my children how to conduct themselves in all areas of life, it's not only by instructing them but also by showing them with my actions, as my mother did. She showed us by her own behavior in a powerful way: it's not what she said to us, although she surely said some powerful, wise, and insightful words, but it was the way she conducted herself and her attitude. She taught me as a child to be the best I could be, lifting me up to the fullest potential.

We used to joke that the post office is being sponsored and supported solely by my mother because she makes and maintains connections with people, remembering their birthdays and sending out cards. She happens to have an amazing memory and she remembers everyone's numbers, showing her genuine care for people. It’s never about herself, always about others and after you meet her you are left with a good feeling and her happy positive words, regardless of the situation. Life with my mother has always been positive and inspiring, motivating me to want to pass it along.

This is what I, G-d willing, would like to emulate. 

So to my dear mother: May your Special birthday be a milestone and a turning point for new and redoubled resurgence of strength, energy and accomplishment, enabling you to enjoy much nachas from all of your very grateful, respectful and reverential children and grandchildren for many long, happy, healthy and blessed years to come!

my heart swells with happiness

Today we welcomed the new Jewish month of Adar. Our sages tell us "when the month of Adar arrives, we increase in joy."

Joy is a very powerful emotion. Tradition teaches that joy has the power to break through boundaries and restraints. As we each experience our personal struggles, Adar reminds us that being joyful transforms our struggles into triumphs.

May G-d help us all that they be in an easy way and a swift manner. 

Our featured program is our grand Purim party, another "Purim at the Circus" experience. See below for all the details, and make sure to mark your calendar.

As our children prepare for Purim, one of our most fun-filled  celebrations, my heart lifts and swells with happiness whenever I witness and share the smiling joyful  faces such as we see here. At Chabad Naples  not only are we dedicated to making it into the most positive experience we can create, but we want our children to enjoy coming.

Happy children, happy learning, Chag Purim sameach!

With blessings for a peaceful and joyous Shabbat,
Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos





Israel Calling? Positively!

Israel Calling?  Positively!
Purim Message

I recently returned from a trip to our beloved Holy Land. It was my honor and privilege to officiate at the bar mitzvah of Jake Masters, the son of dear friends.  This memorable event took place at the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.

Although a short trip, it afforded me an opportunity to connect with the land so near and dear to our hearts. I utilized some time to bring regards and support from our Chabad Naples community to the military men and women who sacrifice their lives daily to protect our land and our people.

My goal was to inspire them:  I left inspired. 

In spite of the horrors of terror attacks they remain dedicated to their mission and goal; in spite of threats they remain faithful, optimistic and joyful; it is truly uplifting to witness. On one hand there is an awareness that threats lurk not only on borders but also within the country; on the other hand, one goes about daily life working, celebrating, singing and dancing as if there isn’t a worry in the world.

So I ask: what is their secret?  How do they maintain this joy for life?  

Actually, it’s our heritage. We have survived a history of close calls and being under attack.

We have just celebrated the holiday of Purim, when once again the Jewish people were threatened by an evil tyrant who had been close to achieving his goal of their total annihilation. Then he met some school children and asked them, “What have you learned today?”

They responded, “Do not fear… their schemes will be foiled because

G-d is with us!” 

Spoiler alert! We know the end of the story:  the tables are turned on the evil Haman and Mordechai wins.

The greatest miracle of Purim is that facing threats on their lives, the children did not waver in their faith.

My father had an oft-repeated Yiddish expression, especially when things didn’t seem to go the right way: Tracht gut vet zein gut.  It means, “Think positively, and it will turn out well!”

It may sound like a platitude or banal but we have learned that positive thinking and optimistic attitudes can affect the outcome of a situation. The children knew:  the end of that movie had not been written. We are the authors of this production, and with our positive attitudes, we can create a happy and positive outcome!

The Megillah states the Purim story must not just be remembered but also re-enacted. This tells us to apply this optimistic lifestyle to our daily lives as well.

In Israel, I observed this ideal being put into practice. Amazingly, not only are they thinking positively, they are living positively.  "Positive thinking generates positive feelings and attracts positive life experiences." A recent report listed Naples at the top of the list as the happiest and healthiest community out of 190 U.S. cities polled.

“Residents there have the lowest levels of stress in the country... Many of them like their daily activities and enjoy an intellectually lively culture…” the report states.

As a proud Neapolitan I challenge you: let’s live up to our reputation while learning from our heritage and our brethren in Israel to have a positive attitude and create positive results with happiness, peace and prosperity for all.

Click here to RSVP to our Annual Purim Event


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