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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Israel is a story of life over death and hope over despair.

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Israel is special.  Its story speaks to and tugs not just on the hearts and minds of Jews, but to all who believe in and treasure the power of the redemptive human spirit.  It’s a story of life over death, of hope over despair, a truly positive and optimistic message to those who dare to reach out and grasp the dream turned into reality.
 
I will recall forever our happiest moments there as a family when we were confronted by the dynamic of Israel, joining with all the people as children of G-d, being  proud Jews and participating in its achievements. It’s far from fantasy - taking a barren land and making it bloom. It’s all very real, as it rejuvenated faith and took a shattered people and nation and helped them live, nurtured their entrepreneurial spirits, and gave them a home and a future. Such a special place, that as Kennedy once said, Israel was not created to disappear -  it is the child of hope.

Yesterday we remembered 23,646 selfless heroes.
 
Soldiers and military personnel who fell in the line of duty to keep Israel free. We must never forget this.
 
We shower blessings of comfort on all the families who have lost loved ones, while remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. We must never forget our debt to them.

“Never forget” is more than some catchy phrase

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Still inspired by the powerful words of “Schindler Survivor,” Rena Finder when she shared her story at Chabad of Naples in 2016.

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“Zachor” (remember), appears no fewer than 169 times in the Hebrew Bible!
 
On Holocaust Memorial Day, we take the time to reflect, honor and remember our survivors, those who were ruthlessly slaughtered, and those righteous souls who may have helped them, risking their own lives. How many of us owe our lives today, to some known and unknown heroes who stepped up and saved the lives of our ancestors?
 
The more we learn about the atrocities man was somehow capable of inflicting upon his fellow-man, the more we are left stunned and staggered by the scope of the evil perpetrated during World War II. As Jews, in particular, we continue to mourn the loss of six million of our finest souls.
 
“Never forget” is more than some catchy phrase — it’s a rule we must live by. We remember all the lives cut short during this terrible chapter in history, and pray the world never permits such tragic history to repeat itself.
 
Let us not underestimate the potential impact we CAN have upon the circumstances we DO find ourselves in. let us have the courage to speak out for decency and truth.

The precious moments of our loved ones

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Dear Friends,

Yossi, you made me a better person...

It's my brother Yossi's yahrzeit, anniversary of passing, starting tonight. It is now 21 years since he passed away. I can articulate and relate to many clichés about time healing wounds but in a seminal way, the pain of loss and the stark emptiness left by his passing will accompany me all of my days.

Yizkor is about remembering, and of all the things I recall about my brother Yossi some special characteristics resonate with me strongly.

Of everyone I have known, Yossi truly lived life to the fullest, giving his best to every moment of every day - he simply never quit. He dived right in to whatever he attempted and gave it his all, fully and with no restrictions. He grabbed life with both hands and LIVED it. He achieved so much in his short life because he seized every second. He was totally invested in life and living. 
Yossi never complained, but ALWAYS maintained a positive, upbeat attitude, even in the years during his aggressive treatments in Sloan Kettering.

He lived for others, caring especially for those who are often ignored. He was selfless and always sensitive to those around him. He did things because it was right and wanting to be of service to G-d and to fulfill his dear Mentor the Rebbe’s calling. I know it sounds like a cliché, but I can tell you this wasn’t an occasional occurrence. Yossi had a courageous and fearless nature, and at the same time, he was the sweetest soul.

Yizkor has become more sacred to me as I journey through life. During shul this Shabbat, as we recite yizkor, I feel that it's so important to have this day, where we spend the time recalling and trying to make sure that we incorporate these special traits in our lives and live up to some of what we were able to see and admire in these special souls whom we loved. Twenty one 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.

I miss my older brother Yossi so much. He was a true inspiration and I often wonder why he was taken from us so early. I will never understand but I am so thankful that I had the privilege to witness true greatness.

Yossi, you made me a better person, a more real person. His life was too short and I miss him terribly but we will try to incorporate what he taught us from those precious but abbreviated days we spent together: a legacy of pure goodness.

I look forward to reading from his Torah on Shabbat and if you can, please do some mitzvah — a good deed in his honor.

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

Wishing you and yours a happy, kosher and freedom-filled rest of Passover!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

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