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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Greetings from the Holy Land

This week we have the privilege of sending greetings from the holy land of Israel. From the minute we stepped off the plane we were overcome by a wide variety of thoughts and emotions  — just to be able to touch, hear, and taste this incredible land as a family! We will endeavor to share some of this unique experience with our Naples community.

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It has been so special to experience this trip with the children: preparing them to visit the holy sites, all the lessons and the history that they learned back home coming to life.

In the past few years between the time when camp finishes until preschool starts up again with teacher training, there are two weeks usually when we go to NY where Ettie’s parents are and Detroit where my parents are, to spend some quality time with family.  A few months ago I was honored to officiate at a Bar Mitzvah in Israel and I returned  with a burning desire to  bring the family there to instill in them a love for Israel, the Jewish people, and give them the great experience of seeing the place about which we constantly speak. This year, in honor of Mendel’s upcoming Bar Mitzvah, we decided it would be the perfect time to take the family to Israel. Isreal6.jpg

The first destination was the Western Wall where throughout our history it has been our special place, sacred for prayer. We requested special blessings for our special Naples community. As I rocked back and forth davening, I quickly realized how deeply embedded it is in my genes:  Israel rocks too! Just touching those ancient stones and seeing Jews from every corner of the world was moving, but watching our children absorb the moment was the best, and will remain with us and them. What a nation —what a history! In just one day we were able to give them a ‘ crash course’,  by going to the Kotel. The first thing we did was pray with the kids, then we went to the tunnels where you can realize how magnificent the Western Wall really is. Then we went to pray at the graves of King David and Samuel. From these places you can see almost all of Jerusalem-- what an incredible sight! As it says in Psalms,  Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains and is simply powerful in its magnificence.

After a long day we decided to go to Ben Yehudah Street which is lined with restaurants and shops since it’s high season it was pretty full.  Isreal4.jpgAs we were walking through the street all of sudden we heard singing, and there was a canopy with people dancing with the Torah: and literally all the people stopped whatever they were doing and danced away with the Torah and sang.  I looked around for a bit and realized there were Jews from all walks of life, young old, and then there were Christians and Muslims all dancing and singing together. This is the Jerusalem we saw and it was AMAZING!  This is the most beautiful place. This is what the world needs to see, this what Jerusalem is all about:  unity, love, happiness, joy — young, old, everyone dancing the night away. I joined in the dancing with Yitzi and we just kissed the Torah, sang songs and then continued walking. 

Words fail me, trying to describe the inspiration of those few hours. It wasn't an itinerary, it wasn't an entertainment, it wasn’t scheduled  — this is just the mood here in Israel in Jerusalem, where you walk in the morning on the same soil as our ancestors and the place is rich with meaning so you take the same footsteps as our prophets and then in the afternoon and night we are creating the future, holding hands with our brothers and sisters, uniting with the world. Isreal3.jpg In a world that is so dark and divided we found love and unity among all.  This is something our children will never forget and this is something we all need.

And then came our visit to the fortress of Masada. We didn’t walk up but climbed down, which was pretty tough for us-:) Masada is a symbol of Jewish resistance, heroism, and devotion. We davened and prayed there and told the kids and Mendel especially, since it is before his bar mitzvah — however you think about it, when the Jews looked down the mountain and every day as their enemy tried to capture them, they occupied themselves with a shul to pray and Torah scrolls to study. I explained to our children while we connect to this history and stand on the special soil we are able to walk in freedom. May we always feel connected; may you never waiver in standing up for your convictions. Isreal5.jpg
 
But with all the history, how could we not feel Am Yisroel chai? In Jerusalem and throughout the country you see the past, present, and future from the children singing in streets to the IDF soldiers. I am completely filled with awe and respect for these incredible people who, in spite of the odds, have such determination, hope and resilience. 
 
This week we have been blessed to see the light of Yerushalyim: may we bring this light to all our homes.
 
We send you blessings of love and joy from Israel and let it spread throughout. As the psalmist says,  see the goodness of Jerusalem when you chisel the diamond and find beauty:  we saw it!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Giving Challah

Giving Challah to those who serve and protect us. Let's bring some light and love into a dark and divided world.

I just came back to Naples from a short trip to New York with my two sons, Mendel & Yitzi. We went to pray by the grave of the Rebbe of blessed memory, in honor of the 22nd anniversary of his passing, with thousands of other men, women and children both Jews and non-Jews. My prayers were, of course, for the success of my family, my extended Chabad of Naples and my precious Naples community.

For me personally, praying at the the Rebbe's resting place is more of an occasion to give thanks. While the Rebbe of blessed memory was a global leader who inspired people worldwide to do good, the impact and influence he had on my wife Ettie Zaklos and me was incalculable.
Young as we were when we arrived in Naples 13 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. What a beautiful legacy!

And now Ettie, Chaya, Hinda, Mendel and Yitzi are with me whenever I come to the Rebbe's resting place, (either here or with me in spirit) where I hope to awaken and instill the same values and zest for life in my family. So I went to offer prayers for all connected with Chabad Naples, to pray that Chabad of Naples continues to thrive and also to give thanks for encouraging us with the vision to create the incredible Chabad of Naples.

Additionally, I said a special prayer for the fallen heroes and their families in the wake of this tragedy and for the brave men and women of the Naples police department and all the brave men and women who sacrifice so much and put their lives on the line for us every single day. Unfortunately, the painful events of the last day have been a clear indication that this is fact.

My first stop today as I got off the plane was to drop off some Challah at the Naples police department. The Rebbe, would always encourage all to take action that brings a little light to this divided and darkened world and giving Challah to those who serve and protect us was a fitting act for the Rebbe's Blessed memory.

Shabbos is a special day of blessing and healing. May the Shabbos that is approaching be a day of peace and hope for all of us, a day of growth, and a day that we are all here to support and respect one other.

we sometimes wonder

 

Rabbi Fishel's thoughts on this special day!

 

Remembering the Rebbe this Saturday on the anniversary of his passing. 4 Life Lessons From the Rebbe That Will Enrich Your Life
 

1) Where your thoughts are, that is where you are. Try to always be in good places.

2) Lead a supernatural life and God will provide the miracles.

3) Your'e never too old, You're never too bad, Its never too late to start anew

4) If you think about yourself all day you will become depressed, each day think of how you can benefit someone else. The route to happiness lies in not I.

 Not all prayers are requests. For me personally, praying at the Ohel (the Rebbe's resting place) of the Rebbe is more of an occasion to give thanks. While the Rebbe of blessed memory was a global leader who inspired people worldwide to do good, the impact and influence he had on my wife Ettie and me was incalculable. Young as we were when we arrived in Naples, 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. What a beautiful legacy! And now Ettie, Chaya, Hinda, Mendel and Yitzi are with me whenever I come to the Ohel, (either here or with me in spirit) where I hope to awaken and instill the same values and zest for life in my family. So I come to offer prayers for all connected with Chabad Naples, to pray that Chabad of Naples continues to thrive and also to give thanks for encouraging us with the vision to create the incredible Chabad of Naples.

His character matched his height

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This Shabbas is the Yahrzeit, anniversary of passing of a precious soul and it is being dedicated in loving memory of Alex Glassman by his dear with Carol.  I am not a maven in any way about what takes place in the supernatural worlds or with a Neshama, but I FEEL in my heart and in my neshama how comforting it must be for Alex’s Eliyahu's precious soul. Let me tell you just a little about Alex. He was a tall man physically — when we met I recall he was towering. His character, his mentsch matched his height and his laugh was powerful.  He supported many amazing Jewish causes such as Technion. He was a devoted humanitarian (which he tried to keep anonymous) and a proud Jew (which he proudly advertised). But I remember how he expressed regret for not having a Bar Mitzvah. Now thinking of this center being dedicated in his and Carol's name and thinking about how many kids have received their Jewish education, had bar mitzvahs and will have here — in fact, this week alone we had a bar mitzvah in the shul, and the hundreds of children just even today enjoying camp and how many more will in the future, I can say with a whole heart that he has his symbolic bar mitzvah many many times over.  Alex, who never had his own bar mitzvah but enabled hundreds of others. When I read from the Torah tomorrow I know that his Neshama is with us and elevating us all. Alex & Carol, your gift of love continues and will continue for generations.

Alex, now that Chabad Naples is also 13 years old and bar mitzvah — we wish you a mazal tov and I am sure you're smiling from on high as we hope to keep making you proud. The shul will be celebrating with Carol and I know your neshama is with us as well.  May his precious Neshama be comforted.

 

Camp Sunshine

Camp Sunshine

An unforgettable and amazing day! The older one gets the more difficult it is to receive the perfect birthday gift. This past Wednesday was my Hebrew birthday and thanks to Susan Bolch & Carl Bolch, I received the gift of a lifetime. Together with my son, Mendel, I had the privilege to spend the day at Camp Sunshine in Georgia. Camp Sunshine caters to children with cancer giving them a chance to enjoy some incredible activities in an amazing and uplifting atmosphere. It was amazing to be a living witness to the generosity and kindness of Carl and Susan Bolch and Camp Sunshine. Sometimes we feel like we touch Godliness. The experience today at Camp Sunshine felt just like that.

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I want to share this one story which I have been thinking about since we were there. As we were walking around on a tour,  a young beautiful girl came over and greeted us.  She was as happy as can be and said to us loudly and joyfully, "I just went rock climbing, I just went rock climbing!” They have these amazing activities, so I was happy but wasn’t sure what the major announcement  really was. Then Mo, who is the camp” GUY” (he has been there since the camp was founded and he knows all the kids by name and they poke each other for fun sarcastically) said to Masey, "Why don’t you show them"  I was thinking,  "Show them what?"  And she picked up her leg which was a prosthetic leg, and she was just ecstatic running around the camp sharing how proud she was. The amazing thing was, at this camp it was children just being happy. Camp Sunshine, Carl and Susan  — what you are doing for these children is giving them their dignity, sharing with them how the world loves them, and knowing from my dear brother how much he suffered and how much pain there is going through treatment there is no greater Mitzvah and calling than seeing these children happy. I am a Camp Sunshine!!! Let's bring sunshine to all around us.

I am sure that my brother is smiling down at me now, knowing that I'm once again spending time with these precious boys and girls as well as bringing along my son along to pass on the torch of selfless giving.

 

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