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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Listen to Logan's Generous Idea

Dear Friends,

In our Torah portion, we are charged to uplift our brothers and sisters with us. Perhaps imach, with us, can be interpreted to mean we can uplift them and show critical support with imach, with our experiences and what we have gone through. We didn’t ask for our particular struggles, but we give them meaning when we use them to help others with similar predicaments or experiences.  

Here at Chabad of Naples we take great pride in our Hebrew School education, not only in the curriculum and how it is offered, but also and more importantly, in how our students respond to our teaching.  

We try, and I believe we succeed,  in making our teaching both interesting and relevant to daily life, and  this year's heartwarming graduation ceremony stands out as a perfect example of this.  During the ceremony, one of the students, Logan, was motivated  ndependently to pass around  a Tzedakah box, explaining that  we all have to give charity.  His generous idea was quickly adopted by the rest of the class. Click here to hear Logan's few words.

Hebrew School teaches how to read, write, and speak the language, but our culture is about a lot more than that!  Hebrew School has also taught this young man about kindness and giving.  It's amazing what we can teach the  the students to practice now, so that  their world will  eventually be a brighter place. 

We should make ourselves available and offer help and support not based on how close we feel, but based on our experiences, our having been there and knowing somewhat what they are going through with this particular challenge. Don’t hesitate or be afraid – send a text, or an email or leave a message with someone saying, we don’t know each other or we aren’t close, but I went through a similar circumstance and I want you to know I am here to help or talk.

Money can help but sometimes we can’t afford to share money and sometimes money is not the issue. There is something else every single one of us can offer:

There is a story told about the devastating famine, which had brought great misery in Russia: A beggar had become weak and emaciated and almost starved to death. He approached the novelist Leo Tolstoy and asked him for assistance.

Tolstoy searched his pockets for money, but discovered that he didn't even have as much as a single coin. However, he took the beggar's worn hand between his own and said “don't be angry with me, my brother. I have nothing with me.”

The thin, lined face of the beggar lighted up, as if from some inner light. The beggar whispered in reply: “But, sir, you called me ‘brother.’ That was the greatest gift that you could give me.”

 V’chi yamuch achicha – the least we can all offer is achicha, to make someone feel they are our brother and our sister and you are with them.

 With love and blessings,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos


Sunday is Mothers Day

Dear Friends,

Thank you.

It was a beautiful show of UNITY this past Shabbat.

How great it was to see so many people from the community ready, willing, and able to demonstrate their solidarity and unity with our brothers and sisters in Poway CA.

Never underestimate the power of prayer and the mitzvah!

This week’s Torah portion tells us - first examine yourself and then examine others. It means be honest and truthful with yourself, before being critical of others.

People watch what we do, not what we say and the most potent device to change another is to model it ourselves. First the Cohen Gadol had to fix himself and only then could he try to help others.

An inscription on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abby who lived a thousand years ago reads: “When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it, too, seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country, and who knows, I may have even changed the world.”


Happy mothers Day to all!

Sunday is Mothers Day - and where would we be without mothers? I think we all know the answer to that one!
Not a day should go by, that we forget to thank G-d for the blessing of a wonderful mother.

For some, the role never quits, even though we may be remiss in expressing to them how we feel as often as we should.

There is a poem that expresses it perfectly: ‘When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking' tells how each little caring thing that mothers do is noticed, even though the child may not acknowledge it at the time, and that ranges from the encouragement one feels when school art is hung on the refrigerator to the silent tears and smiles that mark each passing event.  My own mother had a great impact on my life with her happy and joyful attitude, and it continues to this day.

In the same way, although she might think we don’t notice, it would be next to impossible not to see how Ettie is truly unbelievable with the strength she quietly exhibits while directing and supporting the Preschool, Chabad, our children and the community.

Mothers’ Day is just an annual reminder of the gratitude we should feel often for the loving foundation given to us by those maternal figures.  May we always recognize it as a ‘two-way street’ and remember to show our love  and appreciation in return.

May you and your family enjoy a wonderful day together! 

Greatness begins with ordinary people

Chiune.jpg Zaidy Zaidy.JPG

#heroes #courage

Yesterday we commemorated, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Although we are committed never to forget the horror, we should also concentrate on remembering as many positive things as we can, that led ultimately to our people’s survival.

My grandfather, Reb Moshe Rubin was saved by one of the Righteous, the incredibly heroic and courageous, Chiune Sugihara, who, at the beginning of World War II, risked his own career and life to save approximately six thousand Jews from certain death.

As the Japanese consul in Lithuania, he granted exit visas to Jews, against the orders of his government, thus losing both his job and his respectability within his own community.

Today he is considered a hero in Japan, and there are more than 50,000 descendants of “Sugihara survivors” living throughout the world. 50,000 ripples of light that shine brightly on earth today. And if not for Mr. Sugihara's persistence and courage I would not be here today!

The Poway Chabad community, too, was saved by the heroes who risked their lives for the large congregation that was there that Shabbat morning.

While Jew hatred has been a tragic theme in every generation, even in times of great evil and ugliness, time and time again, we see the beautiful parts of human nature.

Greatness begins with ordinary people deciding to take courage and going out of their way for others.

Each and every one of us has the ability to be a Sugihara. To be the heroes in Poway.

May we each do our part in alleviating the pain and suffering in our world, ushering in some much-needed comfort and peace!

With prayers for peace and safety, Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklo

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