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Friday, 6 September, 2019 - 7:07 pm


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 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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