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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Spread the Light!


Spread the Light!

Wednesday of this week will mark 70 years since the Rebbe assumed leadership of Chabad. One message which he stressed both with his students and with all his followers, was bringing light.

This week's Torah reading describes darkness covering the land of Egypt:  "And there was a thick darkness throughout the land of Egypt for a three-day period. No person could see his or her brother or sister”.

The plague of darkness can be interpreted as a metaphor for the inability for some to be aware of other people in the world. Life isn’t all about ourselves. Darkness falls when we turn exclusively inward and live a life of egocentricity and selfishness. When we care only about ourselves, our interests, our success, our needs, our happiness, we are cloaked in darkness.  

The Rebbe helped us realize and made us aware that bringing light and living not just for ourselves, but for others around us, was vitally important. Being trapped in selfishness and self- centeredness only, is truly a life of darkness that could result in pain and suffering like a plague.  

May we always have the light of caring for others, of honesty, integrity and fighting for justice shining within our homes and community.

It’s amazing to see how Chabad has grown, and how much had been accomplished. It is fair to say that - through his thousands of students spread all over the world - the Rebbe continues to inspire millions, Jews and non-Jews alike, to bring more goodness and kindness into the dark world we live in.

The Rebbe's legacy lives on. It was this vision of love for every individual and a vision of a perfected world that inspired our lifetime move to Naples. We carry his messages with us on a daily basis.

As we look around us on this 70th anniversary, let's meet the challenge ourselves, by working harder to bring light and share it. Right now the world is in dire need of it, so let’s all strive to bring the light and spread it around!

Thank you Rebbe for infusing such powerful purpose in our lives and countless others.

Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light,
 
Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

The Overwhelming Love Felt in Both Directions

 Dear Friends,

There are few words I can say that would capture how grateful and blessed I felt throughout the incredible evening that was my 40th birthday celebration on Sunday.   

I want to publicly share my thanks to G-d for surrounding me with such beautiful people who raised me up and showered me with such love. I hope I can, in a small way, reflect that immense love back to you.  

Thank you to my amazing wife, Ettie - whose love, devotion, beauty, grace, strength, encouragement, confidence, intuition and perception is the not-so-secret formula behind the Zaklos Family's thriving spirit and Chabad of Naples' ongoing success.

I feel so deeply and incredibly grateful for every friend who honored us with your presence - and for the many others who sent their wishes from afar. The overwhelming love felt in both directions was the truest feeling of joyous Mishpacha, family, that I could ever hope for. Thank you for that gift that I will treasure forever.    

It is you, my dearest community, wonderful friends, and beloved family, who inspire me to head into the next 40 years of my life with more vigor and purpose than ever before.

May you all be blessed many times over for the kindnesses you have shown me, and may we only celebrate joyous occasions together!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

 

 

Some of my Remarks at 40th Celebration:  

I am so touched and so moved. How do I begin to convey how deeply thankful I am to each and every one of you for being a part of this celebration. So, whether my words hit the mark or not, I hope that you can nonetheless feel the vibes of love and gratitude emanating from the deepest depths of my heart, and that they, kinetically, enter yours.

Frankly, the only way I am able to wrap my head around all of this, and get comfortable with all the “lionizing” going on here tonight, is through the realization that this is not really about “me” – Fishel Zaklos, per se – but what I represent as the Director of Chabad of Naples... In other words – the community.

Let’s be real: none of what goes on at Chabad of Naples is the result of a one-man or one-woman show. Ettie and I may have been the catalysts, but from day one, Chabad of Naples has been – and will always be – the sum total of all those who support, and participate in, its programs and activities.

So, this is not a glorifying celebration of me, but rather, a humbling celebration of all of us! To the extent that Ettie and I have been able to accomplish great things in this part of the world over the past 16 years, it is because we have been accompanied on this journey by so many remarkable and incredible individuals.

On the personal front, I perceive this milestone as challenging me to new heights, rather than beckoning me to take a bow for old ones.

On the very first birthday in human history, G-d called out to Adam in the Garden of Eden, saying: “Ayekah – where are you?” This same call goes out to the soul of every human being, every day – but especially on one’s birthday.

Ayeka is a stark reminder that we each have a unique and important mission to accomplish in this life - and time is ticking by... “Ayeka – where and what are you up to, in this world?... How are you progressing in fulfilling your unique mission and in living up to your unique potential?

That challenge is invigorating, as it reinforces our awareness of the vital role we each play in G-d’s master plan of creation; how each of us truly matter, in this vast and magnificent universe.

I am heartened by the knowledge that as I seek to intensify my efforts in the days and years ahead, you will all continue to be there with me – every step of the way. Like me, Divine Providence brought you to this place so that you could help light up this corner of the world by bringing more and more goodness into your surroundings. So let us, as one, draw upon the energy of this evening to inspire each other to do exactly that......... No pressure -- of course!

Finally, the Talmud tells us that on a birthday, one’s “mazel”, or “shining star”, is in a dominant and radiant state, thereby giving the birthday boy, the power and capacity to bestow blessing upon others.

That being the case, I would like give all of you a blessing – not so much as a rabbi but as a member of my extended family, which is really how I regard each and every one of you – as part of our “mishpacha”... And that is no exaggeration.

Yevorechecho Hasham v’yishmirecho……… Ya-eir Hashem Panav eilecho vee-chunekah……… Yisa Hashem Panav eilecho V’yaseim lecho Shalom!

May Hashem bless you with peace, tranquility and good fortune... May He grant you and yours good health – physically and spiritually – for many long, and meaningful years to come… May He ensure that you enjoy nachas from all of your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren…

May we, as a community, continue coming together – in a spirit of love and harmony, happiness and solidarity – to share in each other’s joy and Simchois until we merit the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our own days...
Thank you, thank you, thank you all so much for this incredible celebration…

You are the very essence of friendship defined!… I love you all!… G-d bless you all!

 

What's your name - and why it's important to me

Dear Friends,            

In this week's Torah reading, Shemot, we are introduced to the Jews enslaved in Egypt as well as to their ultimate savior, Moses. 

Moses was shepherding his father-in-law's flocks when G-d appointed him to approach Pharoah and demand the Jews' release from bondage.

The Midrash teaches that Moses was tending to a single wayward sheep that had strayed from the rest of the flock when he encountered the burning bush where G-d addressed him.

It was his care and concern for this individual animal that demonstrated his qualification as a leader. True, a leader must have the big picture in mind, but he can never forget the individuals that need special attention and assistance.

That's what made Moses a great leader, and it's a reminder to each of us: there is no person too small or insignificant for our attention.

Strive to be a leader like Moses! People deserve to be treated with the respect and dignity they have earned, and  how better to show that than to address everyone by his name.

As many know, we have a special tradition at Chabad Naples when after the service I wish each individual in the shul, by name, a personal Shabbat shalom.

Even though we had over 150 people last week, we managed to do it.

We strive to follow the lead of Moses: everyone counts and matters equally. We have grown a lot, and will continue to grow - G-d willing,  but we always hope to maintain the heimishe feeling at the  world-famous Chabad of Naples.

The challenge of the future will be  when we have 1,000 people in the shul.  Let's do it, and we will worry about the rabbi naming them all when it happens! No pressure. Rabbi Fishel!�� 

Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light, 

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

THE VIEW OF THE WHOLE CAMPUS KSU Portable 1.jpg

What a day! What a crowd! A whirlwind week for the Jewish community

What a day! What a crowd!

A Wonderful Wonderland

Dear Friends,     

 

Huuuuuge!

What a day! What a crowd!

Our biggest ever Chanukah Festival in the park! A MASSIVE crowd came together to celebrate and share the Chanukah spirit of friendship, happiness and peace.

Jewish pride was visible in great numbers everywhere. Throngs of happy people filled Cambier Park completely to experience Winter Wonderland and participate in what might have been the largest Chanukah gathering ever in Naples. A rough estimate of attendees was 1200 people! We were happily shocked to see such a massive turnout!

G-d was definitely watching over us,  holding back few heavenly sprinkles until it was time to leave,  but surrounding us with the best weather to enjoy the day.

Naples Mayor, Bill Barnett kindled the Giant Ice Menorah; sharing in the fun & festivities, Naples Preschool of the Arts & Chabad of Naples Hebrew School students performed & volunteers manned the many booths where children made Chanukah arts & crafts and of course, enjoyed the many delicious holiday delicacies! 

 The snow, the rides, the food and all the activities brought many compliments and even the ice Menorah hung in there without melting too quickly.

Many thanks to our Naples Police Department and Fire Departments whose presence as always is most welcome.

Thank you to our incredible team of staff, volunteers and sponsors for making this large-scale event possible. And thank YOU to every one who joined us for enhancing our incredible Chanukah festival.

Ettie Zaklos and I feel so blessed to be a part of the Naples community and are so excited to see how our festival has grown over the years to the huge event we all enjoyed yesterday evening.

 ****

It has been a whirlwind week for the Jewish community. We've witnessed the worst possible hate and the most inspiring love. We experienced vicious antisemitic attacks and we responded with an outpouring of unity, solidarity and concern.

We are all now asking the obvious question: "Is this the new normal?" 

While we don't have a definite answer to that question, we Jews are very well primed in how to respond. Aside from the obvious need for extra security and vigilance we must also send a strong message: Anti-Semites and hate filled people will never dictate or define who we are as Jews, or how we practice our Judaism.

We are Jews and we are proud! If we hide that fact, and cower in fear, then they have won the battle! 

We must not let them be victorious. Ironically, the very story of Chanukah demonstrates this message. The Jews refused to let the Greeks dictate their Judaism. They fought back against the tyranny. We need to increase in our Jewish pride at this time and never retreat! 

Here are a few ideas:

1. Get yourself a Mezuzah. The mezuzah is the Jewish spiritual security blanket and every Jewish home and business should have one. Please contact me to help you purchase one and have it posted.

2. Educate yourself. Become a more knowledgeable Jew! Buy a Jewish book for yourself or another, as the saying goes "knowledge is power"! (feel free to reach out for suggestions).

3. Go to Shul. Strengthen your Jewish identity and join with community on Shabbat.

May G-d bless us that 2020 be a much better year for Jewish people everywhere.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

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