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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Our doors never close!

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much to all for taking the time to send special feedback via calls, e-mails, and Facebook replies for the words I shared about my brother. It really meant so much to me and to my family. May we be there for each others' Simchas, G-d willing. 

It's always amazing how Chabad Naples doesn’t slows down when traffic becomes lighter and the cars start rolling north  after Passover. At Chabad Naples the season is a warm up for our busy summer.   

It's VERY long:) If you need a coffee in the middle, please don't hesitate to grab one. 

We hope you had an incredible holiday and are ready to celebrate with us:  coming up May 4th is our special opportunity say thank you to our dear and precious Chabad and Preschool of the Arts partners, for your ongoing support and partnership in all that we do here at the world famous Chabad Naples. We realize that many of you are  out of town as it is the end of the season, but this is one of our small ways to say thank you in person and for us to genuinely say thank you with an intimate Heimishe evening with great food, cocktails, a few (VERY short) speeches. We look forward to seeing all of you — and if you have already flown north, please know that you are in our minds and hearts. 

If you have not yet renewed or you are just planning your partner project participation, please visit our website or call- it means a lot to the precious children and the community, that we may continue our work. 

In addition to joining the Partnership Project, you may want to consider planned giving. We started this special way of being able to ensure and continue the valuable and meaningful investment in continuity for generations to come. To learn more about the Planned Giving Society please visit our website or arrange a meeting with Rabbi Fishel. 

We have much to be thankful for and in the coming days will be showing our appreciation in different ways:   

May 2 is Teacher Appreciation Day, a special time to recognize and thank those who give their hearts and souls every day to the children and who make Preschool of the Arts so unique. 

We are also looking forward to two graduations:   

Hebrew School Graduation – our 13th year!  It is so exciting to see how children who began not reading Hebrew walk away being confident masters. 

May 26th is Pre-K Graduation.  It's amazing how this is our 6th year of preschool and as the children graduate and move on, the schools that they attend afterwards say how they are so advanced. 

If you would like to join us at this event, send us an e-mail we will be happy to reserve a spot for you. 

On June 5th the spectacular Summer of the Arts and Camp Gan begins!  We are almost full but now is the time to register for the few remaining paces for a unique summer.  Check out the calendars for every day full of fun at

Here is a wonderful opportunity to help a chid have a great summer plus contribute to the scholarship fund for one session or the whole summer or to the general fund. 

NEW!!!  You may have heard, we are about to open a Toddler Class!   This is huge — we are offering a full five-day program for our new 12-18 month old children next year.  It is our goal that these young toddlers adjust smoothly to the school environment and feel safe and comfortable in their preschool setting.  To achieve this at their developmental age, it is crucial to have the continuity of coming every day. Children thrive on routine, and the regularity of daily attendance sets them up for success.  In addition, we are keeping the size of the class small, so that the teachers can give the children a lot of love and attention without bouncing between the 2-day, 3-day and 5-day roster of children. This is key for us to create a solid, stable, loving environment where these young children form a real bond with their teachers.

We will start construction and renovation for this project soon, without disturbing the current programs BUT we do need help.  If you are interested in assisting with this additional classroom or wish to dedicate it in honor of someone, please reach out to Ettie or Rabbi Fishel.

All of this, while we still continue with our ongoing programs and doing  Mitzvot in the community.

And don’t forget — Preschool of the Arts and Hebrew School registration are in full swing. 

Wishing you all a safe and beautiful Shabbat,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos



My mother shared two statements with me


Fishey and torah.jpgOn Sunday, December 14, 2008 close to 500 community members gathered to complete the writing after a yearlong commissioning of a Torah that started at the Ritz Beach House in January 2008.

My mother shared two statements with me with regard to this Torah. They made a huge impact and I want to share them with you. One was at the completion of the Torah in 2008 and the other when she visited here in January 2016.

When we completed the Torah, my mother said, “Fishel, you know… the pain was just seething and piercing. Knowing that his legacy continues in this Torah and this community, I now feel for the first time a little comfort."

I know it brought tremendous comfort to her.

Her second statement, more recently, she said, “When I pray in the Shul with you at the Alex and Carol Glassman Chabad Center and you hold the Torah saying Sh’ma, I see two brothers embracing each other.”

THAT to me is huge. It brought and brings so much comfort and I want to share that with others who are feeling pain and loss and might find by perhaps doing something meaningful or powerful it may bring just a little comfort.

This Torah is a living testament, to those souls both past and present, who put their lives on the line to help others and ensure liberty, democracy and freedom for all.

So by being in Naples as it is the Naples community Torah, and all who joined and will join, you have made our family your family.

Today, my brother Yossi is your brother Yossi.

In prayer let us hold hands and together form a large circle of life.

Let our circle of love and common purpose extend far beyond the borders of this Chabad of Naples and reach out to all of our brothers and sisters, wherever they may be.

My brother Yossi, courageous, fearless and the sweetest soul!



ACS me, yossi & mom.jpg 

My brother Yossi, courageous, fearless and the sweetest soul!

Tonight on the seventh day of Passover, is my brother Yossi’s anniversary of passing. In 1997 on the 7th day of Pesach, this precious soul whom I loved with every fiber of my being was taken back to a special place in heaven.

Yossi was taken from us too soon. His life was too short and I miss him terribly.

Twenty years sounds like a lot, but what’s amazing to me is that this young man made such a profound impact on me, with how he led his life, that he has remained very much alive with me. Yossi had a courageous and fearless nature, and at the same time, he was the sweetest soul.

For all the beautiful light my brother shone upon this world for the brief time we were blessed to have him with us, I often tell myself to imagine — just imagine if Yossi were still here! What great things he and I might have build and accomplish together! Sadly, his life was an amazing but curtailed blessing, and we try to continue on his behalf, inspired by and using his positive spirit and joy for life that never waned.

Yossi exuded an inner peace and a sense of direction. He wasn’t torn by different competing ideas and values. Sometimes naturally in pursuit of success and happiness in life we sometimes overlook what's really important. I was amazed that he remained fully focused, never taking his eye off the prize: he lived to help others, caring especially for those who are often ignored.

When I saw him getting up a half hour earlier than his normal 6 am wake up time so that he could help one of his classmates get ready for an exam, or when I watched him motivate his whole school into a new project to reach out to a fellow in need, I saw the true meaning of life; I saw the true meaning of Torah.

When he got wind of a young student who couldn’t afford tuition in Yeshiva, it was he who quietly and discreetly approached members of the community to allow his friend to continue his studies, with pride and dignity intact.

He would often talk dreamily about how one day he wanted to reach out to a community to create a warm and loving place, and as he visited various Chabad centers for Shabbat or events I would hear his ideas develop. One day he wanted to build and open his Chabad center.

And it all changed.

When he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, I thought at least then he would spend time caring for himself and take a break from his selfless giving character. Not Yossi.

As I sat at his bedside in Sloan Kettering hospital for two years, I watched in amazement how doctors and nurses were inspired by this wellspring of joy and happiness. As I wheeled him through the hallways, he would ask me to slow down to share a joke with a little girl who had no hair to frame her innocent face, or just to smile to another elderly patient sitting in the ward. He asked me to wheel him into the patients' lounge so he could spend time to pray. It was just so amazing and awe inspiring to see this teenager who was going through such pain and treatments live and wake up fully to begin his day first thanking G-d and then almost on a mission to uplift and to ease the pain of others. His unshakable faith, his positive demeanor, his courageous acceptance of his situation with equanimity – without any trace of bitterness – were almost superhuman phenomena. It was transcendent. otherworldly!

Instead of wallowing in pity, he was so focused, directed, and full of purpose and meaning. It was almost as if this were his Chabad center.

I know how much life Yossi had in him. I knew his thoughts and felt his dreams, and while I cry for what has been cut short — a beautiful, sincere, caring bright soul who taught me more than he could imagine, I take comfort in knowing that Yossi still has a chance to live his dream through our center, together with my dear wife Ettie Zaklos whom he never met and our precious children. I feel to this day how Yossi is watching our community and taking pride in us, as if we are living his life for him and our magnificent achievement is giving him a chance to prove his immortality.

Knowing Yossi, I promise that wherever he is in the beautiful place in heaven, he is advocating on our behalf, praying for each one of us, for our families, and the world at large.

As I read from the Naples Community Torah tomorrow, dedicated in his loving memory, I know Yossi continues to live on.

Wherever you are in your life, whatever your situation, please know that as I recite from his loving Torah and embrace Yossi with love, I embrace all of you.

If you can, please do some mitzvah — a good deed in his honor.

As we recite yizkor on Tuesday, let's remember the precious moments of our loved ones and know that we can to keep their Neshamot alive and live fully.


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