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Rabbi's Blog

Thoughts and Musings by Rabbi Yossi Zaklikofsky

Why here? Why now?

Why here? Why now?

Have you ever scratched your head in wonder and asked something like:

“How did I end up here…?” or “Who would have ever thought…” & “Why is this happening to me right now?”

I think we can all identify those moments in life when unanticipated events come our way.

For example:

“My flight home made an unexpected stop in Charlotte, but I have nothing to do in Charlotte, my destination is home…”

“My company transferred me to St. Louis for six months, but aside from work, I have no connection or interest in the city. I look forward to leaving as soon as the 6 months are done.”

But is it possible for there to be something waiting for me in Charlotte or St. Louis which goes beyond my initial thinking?

One young man, Gabriel Felder, had some powerful insight to share on this topic, in his Student Address at the George Washington University Commencement ceremony a few days ago.

Gabe studied Torah with my dear friend Yudi Steiner, Rabbi at GWU, every week for the last four years.

That was evident as he faced an audience of thousands seated on the Mall, with the Washington Monument as his backdrop. Gabe chose to share a lesson that helped shape his time in college as he encountered various challenges, including the premature death of his father he held so dear.

It was a lesson that - he says - he learned from my teacher and mentor the Lubavitcher Rebbe.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yossi Zaklikofsky 

Being 'Out There'

Being 'Out There'

Have you yet seen the viral video of Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe from Friends) describing how her son was Bar Mitzvah’d by a young Chabad Rabbi who randomly encountered him at a mall one day?

SEE VIDEO HERE           

I’m definitely not advocating a new trend or standard for this important Jewish milestone, but nevertheless this video made me think about how important it is to be ‘out there’ and available to connect ‘Jewishly’ even in the most random of environments.

The organized Jewish community is always discussing the best methods of engaging the next generation of Jews who are not flocking to sign-up for Synagogue memberships like their parents did.

One of Chabad’s trademarks has always been - bringing Judaism to the Public sphere with outdoor public Menorahs and Mitzvah Mobiles. (Definitely high up on the ‘out there’ scale!)

The vision and purpose of this phenomenon is pretty clear:

There are thousands of Jews – Lisa Kudrows’s son among them – who unfortunately would not be making their way to Synagogue on their own. Nevertheless, these Jews are part of our family, and if they won’t find us, then we need to go find them!

In this particular case, a Chabad student found this Jewish boy at a mall and offered him the opportunity to do a Mitzvah on his own turf. Although seemingly insignificant, that one Mitzvah forged an eternal bond between him and G-d, at the Mall.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Yossi Zaklikofsky

Sunday Morning Workout

Sunday Morning Workout

One Sunday morning, about a year ago, a friend and I decided to meet up for a Jewish ‘Power Hour’. We wrapped Tefillin, ate breakfast and engaged in meaningful Jewish chit-chat.

Since that Sunday, many more friends have joined, and new people are popping-in on a regular basis.

The Sunday morning ‘Power Hour’ has since evolved into a full force, weekly Tefillin Club for men at ‘The Shul’ of Bellaire. (Click here for a video demo.)

I invite you to experience this Sunday morning phenomenon for yourself. Enjoy a spiritual Tefillin wrapping workout, delicious breakfast (bagels, lox, coffee), fine Jewish social camaraderie and discussion and most importantly a spiritual boost as you begin your new week.

This is a very beginner friendly experience. You don’t need to own your own set of Tefillin, we can have an extra set at ‘The Shul’ available.

Join us every or any Sunday between 9:30 and 10:30am. You do not need to sign up, or ‘belong’ all you got to do is show up!


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yossi Zaklikofsky 

My grandfather in Auschwitz

My grandfather in Auschwitz

I was very touched to recently learn this story about my grandfather Dovid Henoch Zaklikofsky – a Holocaust survivor.

While Dovid Henoch was standing in line at the infamous Auschwitz gas chambers. He knew exactly where the line was headed; there were no secrets. It was Friday evening, and as he and his fellow inmates waited, the sun began to set. He stuck his hand in his pocket and gathered the scraps of hard bread that he had been collecting the entire week... so that at the end of the week he could make the traditional kiddush blessing, sanctifying the Sabbath, over a few crusts of bread.

He was determined to fulfill this Mitzvah even as he waited, knowing full well it would probably be his last. To the utter amazement of those nearby, and despite their protests, he proceeded to recite the blessing out loud, as though he was standing at the Sabbath table. "Yom Hashishi… Savri Maranan, Baruch Atah...” He ate a crumb, and shared the rest with those around him. Incredibly, at that exact moment the mechanism that operated the chamber of death malfunctioned. He and all around him were saved from death.

This story inspires me on so many levels. Aside from the obvious, it has also given me insight to a possible explanation for my son Mendel's Kiddush chanting obsession.

Maybe this is where he gets it from? 

An inter-generational, eternal Jewish voice of sanctifying the Shabbat. It's powerful stuff!

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Yossi Zaklikofsky


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