Yesod Haolam in Mexico

Yesod Haolam packages ready for delivery

The privilege of giving

Saul Kisel, Director General, México


As we enter the second half of 2020, no one can deny that this year was, and will continue to be, more challenging than almost any other we have faced in the last 20 (or more) years. Nevertheless, I have no doubt in my mind that we will overcome it!!

We will overcome it because we are fortunate to have a strong community, a united community. A community full of leaders and volunteers that as John D. Rockefeller Jr. once said,
“Think of giving NOT AS A DUTY but as a PRIVILEGE”.

“We will continue to find ways to support
and give back to our amazing community”

It is the people of our community who have created all kinds of organizations with basically one objective: HELP! In any way, shape, or form. Thank you all!!

As our office struggled with the “new normal” issues, such as working from home, etc., we started thinking of how to help our community. How to give something back. How we can contribute our grain of sand. After several brainstorming ideas with management, staff, and our great Women’s Division, we decided that at this time it was better not to reinvent the wheel and just provide support. Plain and simple. Without allocating any resources to creating something new.

As mentioned above, in our community we have great organizations, already established and doing amazing work that during these challenging times are not competing with each other. On the contrary, they are complementing each other. That is why, many times, you can see one person volunteering their time and energy to more than one organization.

Hot meals ready for delivery to Yesod Haolam recipients

Yesod Haolam is a “new” organization in Mexico. They have only been around for about 11 years, imagine that!! But what they have accomplished and the direct impact they have is amazing. Under the leadership of Tannya Laham and some 100 volunteers, they deliver around 2000 kosher meals a month to family members of Jewish patients in any hospital, clinic, etc., as well as any seniors who may have a need for food, for whatever reason, in Mexico City. They also do so much more, that it would be impossible to mention it all. The only source of income they have is through direct donations. Kol ha Kavod!!

So, it is no surprise that our Women’s Division decided to allocate our/their efforts, on this first occasion, to this amazing organization. We will continue to find ways to support and give back to our amazing community. As I read somewhere: “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others”.

PHOTOS: Yesod Haolam

  Jenny Michan in her Yesod Haolam apron (before COVID-19)

Volunteering is the payment and the reward.

Jenny Michan, Yesod Haolam Volunteer, Mexico


“The hugs and the sweet words of gratitude from those people was an unexpected but enormous payment”

When people ask me what my job is or what I do for a living, I always answer “I’m a volunteer”. The next question they ask is always the same, “So you don’t receive any payment?”

My name is Jenny Michan and I volunteer with 5 different institutions within the Jewish community in Mexico City.
It’s not monetary – it is much more than that.

I have been a member of the mothers committee of my children’s school, the Hebrew School Maguen David, for 14 years. Today I also cooperate with the school board. This has been my favorite work, it allows me the opportunity to help benefit the over 1200 students, including my own children. When my children were little, they were accustomed to seeing me at school, and that big smile on their faces was my biggest payment. It is awesome working with children. Their innocence makes it very easy to please them, they are just amazing.

Jenny Michan’s son volunteering with Yesod Haolam (before COVID-19)

Eight years ago, I started to work with Yesod Haolam, an institution that provides kosher food to the companions of Jewish patients in hospitals. Every Tuesday, I go to one of the hospitals to ask the patients’ relatives if they would like kosher meals brought to them. They receive a warm lunch time courtesy of Yesod Haolam. The institution’s slogan is “Food for the soul”. It’s very gratifying to provide a little bit of love, during a difficult time, through the food.
That’s my payment.

Three years ago, I found a new passion in my life; the study of the Shoah. Learning about this topic made me aware that my grandfather is a Holocaust survivor from Bulgaria. That made me more curious and interested in the subject. I took a lot of courses and I met people who invited me to work in Yad Vashem Mexico, the ultimate source for Holocaust education, documentation, and research here. I collaborate with the third-generation committee and in the education department.

For me, as a survivor’s granddaughter, it is very important to help preserve memory of what happened. To tell my grandfather’s history as a family legacy is my biggest payment. I was looking forward to sharing some of that on the Israel Bonds International Delegation to Bulgaria and Israel this past April. However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic the trip was cancelled for this year.

Four months ago, I was invited to work with a new committee in the Maguen David community. Made up of women between 35-45 years old, the committee is called Re-Crea, which means to recreate. Our task is to provide activities, specially designed for women around our age, so they can have an opportunity to approach the community with nice and recreational activities.

As you can imagine, we didn’t have the opportunity to do what we had planned because of the quarantine, but so far, to be in touch with women who have the same interests as me, is also a nice payment.

On two occasions, I had the chance to visit a very poor community in Chiapas, Mexico with CADENA. It is a civil association dedicated to prevention and assistance in crises and disasters around the world, providing hand-to-hand help for people in need. It was a very exciting experience, but I had very strong mixed feelings; on one side I was happy to be able to help the women of this little village, but on the other side I was in shock by the inequality in the world and the shortages of the most needy. The hugs and the sweet words of gratitude from those people was an unexpected but enormous payment.

Jenny Michan and fellow Women’s Division member Daniela Abadi de Penhos volunteering
for Yesod Haolam (before COVID-19)

Finally, there is the Woman’s Division of Israel Bonds Mexico. I was invited by Saul Kisel to join this committee when it began nine months ago. We started a short time ago, but we have done a lot. With the leadership of Linda Sirazi, chairperson of the Women’s Division in Mexico, we ran very interesting activities and I met incredible women. Above all this, being part of this project has been an opportunity to contribute, in some small way, to the State of Israel. I’m a very Zionist person and this small contribution is my payment. I was happy to make the connection between Israel Bonds and Yesod Haolam for a special Jesed (Hessed) project they are collaborating on. So, as you can see, so far, I have been rewarded for more than I can ask for!

Jenny Michan is an active member and volunteer in the Jewish community of Mexico City, and is a member of Israel Bonds Women’s Division in Mexico.

PHOTOS courtesy of: Jenny Michan