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The Overwhelming Love Felt in Both Directions

Friday, 24 January, 2020 - 4:14 pm

 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!


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