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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

We treasure your friendship

Dear Friends,  

This week’s Torah portion, Nitzavim, is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah.

The name Nitzavim is from the portion’s opening verse, where Moses reminds the Jewish people that they are “standing before G-d today.”

The commentators explain that "today" could also be a reference to the day of Rosh Hashanah, when we all stand before G-d.

No matter your affiliation, the High Holiday season is a time for all Jews to show up. G-d welcomes everyone in; all we need to do is show up, to stand before G-d and say, “Here I am!”

It is an opportunity for introspection and inspiration. But the first step of that is to come through the door. Be present and the rest will come. We look forward to count you among us.  

Each year we strive to conduct meaningful, uplifting services so that everyone will feel at home celebrating with the Chabad family, regardless of his/her knowledge of Hebrew.

Watch the timeless prayer book come alive with heart warming stories, commentary and down to earth applications.

Of course, each service is followed by Kiddush and holiday delicacies.

We treasure your friendship and support throughout the year. In addition to our warmest blessings and wishes for the New Year, we would like to extend this warm and sincere invitation to you and your family.

The Alex & Carol Glassman Chabad Center is open to welcome everyone at any level where he or she feels comfortable. We are always interested in hearing from you and answering any questions you might have.

Do not hesitate to call us for further information or check our website if you have any questions.

Welcome home for the holidays!

May you and yours be inscribed and sealed for a happy, healthy, and sweet year!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

Arthur Seigel, President

Welcome Cantor Sholom, Raizy and Shaina.

Dear Friends,

It’s the countdown to the New Year and it sounds as if our Cantor Sholom Rabin and his family are just as excited as we are about his upcoming visit.

It is obvious from his letter that all of us have made Cantor Rabin feel at home and part of our family, and that the good feelings are mutual. Isn’t it wonderful that he comes to us not to “do a job” but to participate with his wife and daughter as members of our extended family!

I know you will join me in making them welcome once again as only Chabad of Naples can, as we enjoy the musical beauty and glow he brings to our services. Don’t hesitate to suggest favorite songs you would like him to sing.

****

A Letter from your Cantor

My name is Sholom Rabin,

The year has flown by and I am looking forward to once again be hosted, this time with my family for the highlight of my year, by Rabbi Fishel, Ettie Zaklos, and the beautiful Chabad of Naples community to lead your High Holiday services.

Since my ​Bar Mitzvah​ I've had the privilege of leading services at different communities around the world. Of all the centers I have been to Chabad of Naples is my favorite and holds a dear place in my heart! And no, I don’t say that to everyone.

Last year when I arrived, I instantly felt a part of your special Shul. I enjoyed the warm, familial and joyous atmosphere. That's not all, Rabbi Fishel and I share a special connection having both grown up in Detroit.

Despite 13 years of Cantorship, not a day goes by without me gurgling an egg. Nah, I'm just kidding about that, but I have been working with my vocal coach throughout the year and more so before the high holidays to make sure I'm on good vocal form and can reach that high G note.

Rabbi Fishel and I carefully reviewed the ​Davening ​and prepared a great blend of classic and contemporary tunes. We hope you enjoy them.

I invite you to join me in opening your heart and mind, to sing and clap, allowing yourself to feel your soul and be moved. Together our prayers will pierce the gates of heaven!

Please let me know how I did, say hello, suggest a tune, or even share with me what is most impactful to you about Judaism. I look forward to seeing you all and introducing you to my dear wife Raizy and my daughter Shaina.

With heartfelt wishes for a sweet new year.

Shalom,

Sholom!

 

Rosh Hashanah is a happy day

Dear Friends,

Rosh Hashanah is a happy day. It’s a holiday when we celebrate our loving relationship with our Creator and the profoundly meaningful purpose in our creation. We each matter to G-d, because we each have something very special to bring to the world. That’s something to soak in and celebrate.

At the same time, Rosh Hashanah is a time for thoughtful introspection; a time to consider the gap between the potential beauty in our lives and the actual. It’s a time to think about how much closer we can feel to our Creator - all year round - and how much more we can do to find the purpose in our existence.

That may be sobering, but it should also be empowering.  

Rosh Hashanah is just around the corner. Stop in to services. Take some time to close your eyes and think, and to contemplate some of the liturgy. Grab life by the horns and seriously consider who you’re not [yet]. It’s a time for growth, and G-d is cheering you on.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

A loyal partner of Chabad of Naples, our reliable Shofar blower, a treasured friend

Gil .jpg

With deep sorrow we mourn the sudden passing of Gil Block, Gershon ben Zelig, yesterday.

A loyal partner of Chabad of Naples, our reliable Shofar blower, a treasured friend, and a very sweet person: he is sorely missed. A true special light and beautiful soul has departed, and the entire Naples community has lost a gem of a person.

Gil had told me he expected to return from a visit with his children to celebrate the High Holidays with us, and how he was looking forward to blowing the Shofar. However, he became ill and passed away.

 

I am happy that I had an opportunity to speak with him a few days ago, and to tell him how much we loved him. When his wife Diane said he might not return for the High Holidays, I told him we would miss him but looked forward to his coming back to Chabad Naples.

Two days ago Gil's daughter mentioned to me that he really was not doing well. So I called my dear friend and colleague Rabbi Levi Potasch, who is the Chabad rabbi there, to go and pray with him and send him my love and give him a hug.

He went there and he put on tefillin with Gil, spoke Yiddish with him, prayed with him, and then put the shofar by his lips and Gil smiled beautifully.

Gil was such a sweet soul. We had an amazing relationship. Every Shabbat together was special, and he uplifted us all with his warmth. He always had something special to say and always showered praise upon our work. He loved what we did and we loved him back. He was also involved in so many other interests such as the Jewish war veterans and a host of other organizations in our community.

This Rosh Hashanah will be even more powerful than usual, as Gil will be blowing the Shofar from on high. He will be with us as he always was. He was such a man amazing and beautiful person. And his last words to me were, “ I love you”.

We mourn and express our deepest condolences to his wife Diane, his daughter Susie, and his son.

May the Block family & our community only know of Simchas.

Funeral services will be held on Sunday at 1 PM at Beth Shalom cemetery - 1501 Anderson Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15209. There will be a Maariv service Tuesday night at Chabad Naples at 7:00 pm as we honor this special human being in the Chabad Naples that he called home.

 

THE PATH TO HOPE

THE PATH TO HOPE

The great Jewish comedian Sam Levenson,  describing his family’s Jewish American experience said,  “My folks were immigrants who bought the legend that American streets were paved with gold. When my father arrived he discovered three things: 

 1.   The streets were not paved with gold.

2.   The streets were not even paved!

3.   He was the one expected to do the  paving!”

This is a timely metaphor for our emotional development. In youth’s hopeful dawn, we feel noble stirrings within and dream of realizing them on a global scale. And yet,  so often as the years tick by, dreams slip away and we fall into the abyss of mediocrity where the temptation may be  just to give up. As 19th century philosopher Thoreau once observed, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

There comes a time of honest self-reckoning, possibly your very own ‘Aha moment', when we must take stock of unfulfilled dreams and realize that we don’t have to give up. Hard work is required to live life to its maximum potential, by  improving and “paving” our spiritual and physical well-being.

I believe this truth is reflected in the daily blasts of the shofar, that we blow in preparation for Rosh Hashanah which occurs later this month.

Several centuries ago, the renowned Rabbi Horowitz (known as the ‘Shelah'), once brilliantly explained how the sound of the Shofar is a parable of life:  The Shofar blasts begin and end with a tekiah — a whole note, yet in between are the shevarim and teruah — broken notes.

 We are gifted at birth with magnificent potential. Along the winding path of life, via mistakes, weakness, pain, failure and more, we may become shevarim, (temporarily) broken. Yet, we can spiritually become whole again and commit to self-improvement.

During the month of Elul, the shofar acts as our spiritual alarm clock. We wake up! Step up! And increase our number of mitzvot each day. You, and you alone, hold the power to shape your life’s path with a destiny to “pave” and build a beautiful road ahead.

Was it just one week ago that we were  anxiously waiting for details about the  hurricane’s track?  It was a wake up call, and  what is most important is while we were spared,  there are so many people who were not. Many of the small islands  in the Bahamas have been devastated and sadly, many lives lost.  We pray for everyone there and in the eastern US who has suffered injury, loss of life and property.  Their days ahead will require help, strength, and faith.

Chabad Naples & Preschool of the Arts would also like to contribute to these relief efforts, without overlapping with the many organizations doing such meaningful work here in Naples and in the Bahamas www.jewishbahamas.com/relief2. While basic necessities are needed immediately, we would like to help some of those who lost everything in the longer term. As a special Mitzvah Project, Preschool of the Arts is organizing a toy drive, where we will be donating toys to those most affected by Hurricane Dorian. We will begin collecting toys within the next few weeks until the holiday season, during which we will gift these toys to children in need. We believe this effort will resonate well with our young students, who will learn the importance of helping other children. Toys are a medium that transcends differences, and we hope our children will be excited to participate in this project that will get toys into the hands of children who don't have any. Stay tuned for more details as we roll out this initiative. If any parents would like to volunteer to helping organize in this effort, we would greatly appreciate it.

Wishing you all month filled with strength and meaning.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

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