Rabbi Fishel's Blog


We all recall September 11 as one of the most terror-filled days written into our history. We recall exactly where we were on that day and what we were doing.

At the same time, we recall the endless sacrifices made by first responders and the thousands of innocent lives lost and families irreparably damaged by those events in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

Some of us may also recall how, in the days that followed, for a while the world became a kinder place where patriotic flags flew and strangers smiled at each other in sympathy, shared grief, and understanding.

Let this day remind us to strive for a return to sharing that loving kindness with mankind in better days.

Let's rekindle the sense of obligation to the people around us- starting with our families and relatives- the ones we love, and the ones more difficult to love- and moving on to the people in our neighborhoods, communities and beyond, in the true American spirit.

let's all extend our hands in freedom and love for one another with continued mitzvos & blessings today and every day. And what greater tribute can we make on 9/11.

Long live the King!

Dear Friends,

Queen Elizabeth II was a powerful and graceful leader who brought the world together and was an island of stability in a tumultuous world.

 As queen, she inspired many with a life of
 service and left a lasting legacy on our world.

As the world mourns the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, all eyes turn to the heir to the throne, King Charles III. But changing course and ascending to the throne at age 73 can be fraught with many challenges.

Interestingly, this comes at a time when many are starting at new schools, a new job, and we are also preparing to start a new year on Rosh Hashana. Clearly, it is a season of venturing into previously unchartered territory.

So what is the secret to a successful transition?

The Torah tells us "When you build a new home, you shall build a fence over your roof." A fence offers definition to a space, as well as protection from the inevitable dangers of rooftops without guardrails.
To succeed in a new venture, we should look ahead for all potential scenarios and plan accordingly.

When moving away from our comfort zone and going out into the world, various elements may test our most sacred values and convictions. Erecting a fence symbolically means to create personal guardrails to protect our integrity, honesty and morality.

Judaism guarantees us that creating personal boundaries is the best way of preventing us from “falling over the edge.”

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos


Dear Friends,

Happy Birthday, world!

Make a Birthday wish!

Now enjoy the apple and honey cake! And have a happy sweet new year.

That pretty much sums up Rosh Hashanah. It's the day we celebrate the fact that we have a world. The Milky Way. The Planet. Nature. The animal kingdom. You and I – the human beings.

"Hayom Harat Olam" – today is the world's birthday, we announce after blowing the Shofar. And that is why we celebrate.

We celebrate by spending hours in the synagogue praying (and listening to awesome sermons, of course) and then spending many hours around the dining room table replete with familiar familial antics.  Let’s be honest: no one does a New Year celebration the way we do! 

A cynic might ask: "What about this world is worth celebrating? Have you seen how broken society is? War? Sickness? Mental health crisis? The collapse of families and communities? Are you naïve?"

Yes, I am frustrated by the agony around me. Sometimes I pinch myself to remind myself that this is not a movie. But, at the same time, I am hopeful for our future. Frustration without hope is like a joke without a punchline: it leaves us empty.

When G-d created Adam and Eve, He did so knowing the complexity and darkness that is part and parcel of the human condition. He was well aware of how humans can harm themselves, each other, and the world they inhabit.

At the same time, He knew (and Created) their potential for love, grace, forgiveness, redemption, generosity, holiness, empathy, joy, and light.

In the words of our sages: the human is half animal and half angel. We have incredible potential for the highest or lowest of creation.

Rosh Hashanah is when we celebrate G-d's belief in us, as much as our belief in Him.

Each morning when we wake up, we traditionally say the words of the Modeh Ani prayer, in which we thank the Creator for restoring our lives to us:

"I thank you, living and enduring King, for You have graciously returned my soul within me. So great is Your faithfulness."

Read that last sentence again. "Great is Your faithfulness." Whom does the Almighty believe in?

You and me. People. Messy and complicated homo sapiens.

Each day we wake up is another day that G-d tells us, "I believe in you. You are up to the task. The world needs your light and love. You can bring healing to this hurting universe; go make a difference!"

To be honest, I sometimes wonder why G-d keeps believing in humanity. I sometimes struggle to believe in our potential to get things right. Our history is packed with evil, stupidity and apathy.

But then I look at the many special souls living around me in this corner of the world, and I regain my faith. The incredible acts of kindness that occur daily in this G-d-given community give fresh and inspiring meaning to the term "the Sunshine State”.

Could that be why it’s called the Paradise Coast?

And I look at history and see the majesty, saintliness, and heights that we have climbed.

After the last few years, I contend that we could all do well to work on regaining our confidence that the best days are ahead of us! It doesn't take courage to be a pessimist. It takes courage to believe.

I believe. 

In G-d, of course – that's the easy part.

I believe in you.

I believe in myself.

That is tough. 

But I am in good company. G-d does not make mistakes. He believes in me. I'll trust His judgment.

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos


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