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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

I miss you my beloved brother Yossi.

I miss you my beloved brother Yossi.

Tonight, which ushers in the seventh day of Pesach, marks the 22 years since my brother Yossi's passing. I have now spent more years without him than with him and yet, the pain of his absence never dissipates. I am now more than twice the age he was at the time of his passing, and yet, his personality looms so large in my life – not as a figure from my childhood, but as an old soul.  He will forever be an ever-inspiring presence, a big brother to me, and to so many others in the truest sense.  

When he was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, I spent two years with him at Sloan Kettering. In reflecting on and remembering that time, my too-young brother taught me in his death what is most important about life.

In spite of the tremendous pain he endured, he was always optimistic. He was able to see both his illness and his world through a beautiful lens.  He saw the good in everyone, even if it sometimes meant that person had not yet experienced his potential. He had the ability to make one want to be as good as he or she could be.

All of his life, Yossi always maximized his own time and potential, learning to play a variety of instruments and becoming a Hebrew scribe. He literally never wasted any precious time and always went from one project to the next.  He lived almost as if he somehow knew that his days on this earth would be numbered.

But his maximization never ended with himself: he embodied the Rebbe's mandate to love all Jews, always seeking them out- on the streets, in office buildings, and later on, in the hospital wards, even when he was battling the illness, to help them do a mitzvah, and to offer kind and encouraging words to those in need. His love for every human being was boundless.

Much like Avrohom, the first Jew who went against the tide and forged a new path spreading the word about ethical monotheism with kindness and love in spite of the fierce and dangerous opposition he faced, Yossi had the unusual combination of sweetness, gentleness, tenacity and fearlessness in getting good things done.  He always persevered, never giving up on anything or anyone.

Tonight we commemorates the splitting of the Red Sea.  Perhaps the date of Yossi’s  passing is auspicious, for one of his strengths was how he too seemed to split obstacles, going through them to get to the other side, accomplishing his goals. e 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. And he ALWAYS maintained a positive, upbeat attitude, even in the years during his aggressive treatments in Sloan Kettering.

Yossi 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.

One of his many aspirations that he so deeply desired was to establish  a Chabad House. 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.

While he was unable to follow that dream personally, I know that it is with his blessings and requests on high that I am privileged to be his hands and feet in the work that we are doing at Chabad of Naples.

Tomorrow, when I hug the Torah that bears his name in the Ark, I know that I am sending Yossi himself the greatest hug possible by embracing the values that were so precious to him; the Torah that he breathed and lived for.
I miss you my beloved brother Yosssi: you are always and  forever in our hearts, our minds, and  your sweet soul guides our actions.

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

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

We say thank you

Dear Friends, 

The holiday of Passover and the Seder in particular remind us to be grateful and to give thanks for all we have. Our well-known tune Dayenu reminds us of all the times G-d helped us in amazing ways, and of how ungrateful we were, always demanding more. Passover is, therefore, our opportunity to make up for this by showing how grateful we were and still are, every step of the journey. 

On the night of the Seder the gates of the heavens are open, and we raise our glasses filled with wine and say L'chaim. On a personal level, this is when Ettie and I express thanks to our incredible family: yes, our Naples/ Marco Mishpacha for every step of this amazing journey. A mere 16 years ago we came to this beautiful place called Naples and today we have a growing and beautiful family, and we will spend the time at the Seder to go back and reflect on all the incredible angels who have given so much, who have been here for our community, for Chabad Naples and for us. We say thank you.

Our sincere repeated thanks will never be enough. 

Passover is also the time when we are blessed with spiritual freedom to allow us to rise above and "Passover" the confusion and worry stemming from the challenges we face in daily life. This year, more so than other years perhaps, Passover comes just on time. Enjoy its rich traditions, observe it's sacred customs. It will afford you much needed energy of joy and liberation to savor year-round. 

As we commemorate our first journey home, from Eygpt to the land of Israel, we pray for our Holy Land Eretz Yisrael and its people, Am Yisrael, that for once and for all -  they, all those who dwell in her borders and her neighbors beyond, be freed from the tyranny of terrorism striking fear in the hearts of its innocent, and may the land secure in its physical borders and its people secure in their spiritual purpose, be a light unto the nations.

We pray for the children of the world, the tragically suffering children of Syria, the hunger-stricken of Africa, the refugees in Europe and beyond, and indeed all of G-d's children across the world, that they be endowed with a spirit of freedom from the oppression around them and be given the chance to live their lives in peace and dignity.

Let us use this opportunity to tap in to our inner Moses, taking a step forward in our own lives, to live a more present, conscious, G-dly life; enriching our family experience, uplifting our social value, and expanding our communal contribution to make the world, immediately around us, and beyond, a holier and happier place. We ask Hashem that as we grow and the needs continue, the angels and continued miracles will flow together.

We love you and L’chaim!!!!

 Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

Israel: Small Country, Big Dreams

Israel.jpg 

 

    Israel: Small Country, Big Dreams
 

Dear Friends,

Good things certainly come in small packages, when you realize that Israel, one of the smallest countries in the world, could have become the fourth nation to land on the moon. Beresheet - aptly named ‘in the beginning - Genesis - ’ is unique.  

We’ve often been reminded that it is about the journey and not the destination, but in this case, both are astounding! Israel is only the fourth nation to ever attempt a lunar landing and we have so much to be proud of. Israeli innovation and intelligence continue to punch above its weight on an international scale in the most extraordinary way.
 
Planning to complete the mission with the message, "Israel - Small Country, Big Dreams”, Beresheet was unable to land successfully. As we all waited eagerly to celebrate its success, our excitement turned to disappointment. However, in true Israeli style, they celebrated their success in orbiting the moon and vowed to try again.
 
We hope and pray, coming just before Passover when we celebrate our freedom, the message of Beresheet is for mankind to strive for the beginning of a new, more loving and tolerant world.

I am very pleased to announce that we have decided to join sister Chabad Centers from across the country and around the world and take part in the Jewish Learning Institute's Land and Spirit Israel Experience, next spring, March 15th-24th, 2020.

This is a great opportunity to see Israel as never before and I know you will want to be part of our delegation from Naples.

I want to extend a personal invitation to join me and fellow members of our community on this trip of a lifetime. Please call me at 239-262-4474 or email rabbi@chabadnaples.com for more information.

May the upcoming Pesach usher in true freedom - personally, communally and globally!

Here’s to Beresheet 2.0!

With warm wishes for a Gut Shabbes,

Sincerely,
Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Welcome Home!

Dear Friends,

A very special Torah Completion & Celebration. Mazal Tov Naples!

On March 31st, the Naples Chabad community welcomed the new Unity Torah home. Commissioned a year ago by Patricia Adkins and her family, the Torah came home with much pomp and a lot of ceremony home to be complete by the scribe, Rabbi Klein. Close to 300 people came out and joined the festivities celebrating the completion of a very special Torah Scroll - a Torah Scroll written as a testament to "the spirit of unity" of the greater Naples, Collier County and Marco Island communities. 

The joyous occasion was accompanied by Cantor Yaakov Lemmer who thrilled the large crowd with his powerful voice and choice of music. 

Quick thought...

If Moses would have arrived at this Torah celebration, on March 31, 2019, he would be puzzled at the cars in the parking lot, the cell phones in every pocket, the lights in the sanctuary...but he would see this Torah, and he would know exactly what it is; he would hear the blessings over the Torah, and he would know exactly what those are- the more things change, the more some things remain the same.

 

Three thousand years after Moses came down with the Torah, it is still the same, word for word, letter for letter. What a gift for us all, in this ever-changing world!

This Shabbat, as we welcome the Unity Torah to our service, "In the spirit of our ancient tradition, which unites and sanctifies the House of Israel in all lands and ages,” we offer the opportunity to come and enjoy whatever personal experiences Chabad Naples offers.

Our door is always open to you.

Thank you all for participating and celebrating this gift with us!

Wishing you a beautiful Shabbat,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

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