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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

The debt we owe to those who fight

Dear Friends,

Memorial Day - to some it’s a long holiday weekend, a time to enjoy spending some extra family hours packed with sales, BBQs and events, almost a formal prelude to summer. But let’s not forget the traditional “memorial” part, designated to honor the men and women who serve in a branch of the armed military as well as those who died in its service. There’s an extra show of flags on homes and in the medians of some nearby cities, as local veterans hold ceremonies to remember those who died serving their country and to honor those who still put their lives on the line daily, so that we and others may enjoy the freedom we hold so dear.
Take at least a small part of the day to remember some of the basic ideals on which our country was founded, and the debt we owe to those who fight for them on our behalf.
With love and blessings
Rabbi Fishel Zaklos 

I felt the love, the warmth and the miracle!


Another busy week at Chabad of Naples as we celebrate the successes of our Preschool and our Hebrew School, with graduation ceremonies for both.

It’s that time of year again and as we gear up for yet another fantastic summer of camp, with only two weeks left to prepare and a few spots left to fill, now is the time either to sign up your camper or to click here for the scholarship fund, to give the gift of a summer of unbelievable fun to a child who will appreciate it. Do it today!

Shavuot, May 31: We look forward to seeing all of you at our Grand Shavuot Ice Cream Party and dairy buffet - No charge, but RSVP is required if you wish to attend:  [email protected]

Yom Yerushalayim begins at sundown on Tuesday, May 23. Just 50 years ago those words “The kotel is in our hands" reverberated around the world, but just days before powerful armies wanted to wipe it away. At that time believers and non-believers all understood the miracle, and they all were moved to tears  by the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City in June 1967. 
As the mayor of Jerusalem said: 50 years ago Jerusalem was dysfunctional to say the least, while today in the ancient city where kings and prophets walked, it has been transformed to a modern international cosmopolitan center.  It is one of the fastest growing high tech hubs with thriving innovative companies minutes from biblical sites and the greatest archaeological treasures. It’s the eternal home of the Jewish people and a miracle of diversity.

I just returned from an amazing albeit short trip to Israel with a Chabad Naples group. There are many stories which I hope to share in the coming weeks, but for now I just want to share how every time I go I feel my Neshama is alive. When we spent some time in Jerusalem and then in Tzfat and Meron, I truly felt the love, the warmth, the miracle and the diversity of observing the modern and the ancient thriving as one. Words fail me as I try to describe going the second time to pray at the wall, the night before we left. It was as if I couldn't leave for there was something drawing me to that powerful, awesome, and brilliant place. Although it was 1 in the morning it was like midday with so many people learning and  praying.  I was davening for my family and the Chabad Naples family and felt the prayers were going straight up as the divine presence is there. But it dosen't stop there as Jerusalem isn't just a geographical location,  it's our story, it's our history and destiny.  It represents peace, tranquility, reverence, awe, and respect, and our mission is to bring this Jerusalem into our own lives to connect with the past yet build a bridge of hope for the future. We never lost hope and have always yearned deeply for a better and brighter future.

An estimated 800,000 Jews came to pray, dance and celebrate at  the grave of Rabbi Shimon in Meron, and we were there too, to share this legacy of love and beauty.  Can you just imagine seeing that many people uniting in such an absolutely powerful way? Each had his reason for coming from every corner of the world for this event  and it may be that the reason is as simple as our wish to pass the tradition along, as it's our story: we never forget and we don't lose hope. Rashbi’s entire life centered around one theme: Revealing the inner layer behind every element of our world. He taught humanity to focus on what unites us, not what divides us. He taught us to live for purpose, not just for pleasure. And he revealed how every individual has an infinite contribution to make to this world. Wishing everyone a peaceful and blessed Shabbat! 

Our center was filled with joy

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Dear Friends,

Last night, 150 Naples Chabad Partners once more answered the call: this time to come cruisin’, schmoozin’ (and even a little boozin’) as they enjoyed the delightful feast catered especially by Shaikes.

Rufino Hernandez, of the Garden District thank enhancied our event by generously donating stunning flower arrangements. 

This was Chabad’s way of thanking partners for their generous past support for Naples Chabad and the Preschool of the Arts. On such a high-energy evening, out of sight is definitely not out of mind. 

The event also gave everyone the opportunity to raise a glass in a huge L’chaim to those who were able to be present in spirit only - emphasizing the importance of each and every partner. 

Guests went home with a giant beach towel to assure them they are “making waves as partners”, and sunglasses to peer at our dazzling bright future. 

Mere words are not sufficient to convey our sincere gratitude to the very special group of our partners. Our pictures say a thousand words -- so we'll let them do the talking!

We love you all and look forward eagerly to next year with our partners.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos
Arthur Seigel, M.D.


We all need to sing with our families.

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We all need to sing with our families.

This past Monday my family and I undertook a most moving and powerful event. Just being together with my parents and my siblings to honor my brother Yossi’s 20th yahrzeit was significant enough, but our shared experience was beyond anything I ever could have anticipated.

We first went to his gravesite at the Montefiore Cemetery. We recited psalms and sang some of the songs that Yossi loved singing at home at our Shabbat table. While we were all lost in the music, we found ourselves reliving and experiencing Yossi again. We were surrounded and overcome by so much power. There was not a dry eye present.

The singing continued and no one made a move to leave. At that moment I realized the strength and power of singing as a tool to bring us together, back to childhood with that innocence and purity around the Shabbat table.

While it was so difficult to see all my siblings and parents crying, there was still a sense of peace knowing Yossi was schepping nachas and singing with us while he was basking and singing with the heavenly angels.

You know, oftentimes, when I think about how much I miss Yossi. I think about how I wish Yossi could have met my wife, Ettie, my children, his nephews and nieces, it becomes extremely difficult to hold back my tears. But I know that tears alone won’t cut it. We have to tell Yossi’s stories to each other and to our children. And we have to aspire to the qualities he radiated so purely and so beautifully

With my arms around my son Mendel, I took comfort from the music knowing the beauty of the moment would be absorbed by him and carried forth to the next generation.

Next on our schedule was a family visit to Sloan Kettering to say thank you to the doctor who helped Yossi during his two years there. He was so grateful to see us and while it has been a long time, he said he will never forget Yossi — his selflessness, kindness and what a gem he was at such a young age. When he was in remission Yossi presented him with a doctor’s prayer and the doctor said that at the beginning of every day he reads the letter before he begins working.

Then we went to Ronald McDonald House and as were giving “Yossi’s treats” to the children, we met a mother and her precious daughter who has the same form of cancer, Ewing Sarcoma, which is very rare. We talked for a long time and found it difficult to leave Alexa, this amazing 12-year old, for whom we will continue to pray.

After this highly emotional day we met for a special gathering in Yossi’s honor with many speeches from friends and family, and then we farbrenged and met informally saying l’chaim until the wee hours of the morning.

As I walked away from all of these events, I realized the impact my brother Yossi left and how 20 years later his spirit is not just strong but even stronger. Just imagine, although he lived only a short life, how many lives he touched, the impact he made and how every moment counted as if instinctively he knew his time was limited. The music of his abbreviated life unites us, as we recall all the positive ways in which he influenced our lives and continues to do so.


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