Tikkun Olam, repair/perfecting of the world, is a major focus of every Jewish community. Visiting the sick, doing charitable work to benefit Jews and non-Jews alike, protecting the environment…these are all cornerstones of Judaism and for many of us, our raison d’être—why women and men were put on earth in the first place.
Tzedakah (could be rendered as “charity”, but linguistically and culturally it is better translated as “doing the just thing”) has always been a major pillar of Judaism. As such, Shalom SMA’s Board of Directors has determined that 10% of our treasury ought to be designated specifically for this holy purpose on a yearly basis.
Our community has sponsored several wonderful projects in the past, including the provision of speech evaluation and prolonged therapy for 2 orphan girls at the Casa Hogar Don Bosco, as well as donations of food and even fumigation services there.
- For the past several years we have also partnered with the local DIF (municipal 'Social Services') to help local indigent residents pay for needed medical treatments and medications that are not covered by the Seguro Popular program (kind of like Medicaid).
- The first Wednesday of every month is our turn to help serve food to over 120 local elderly and indigent San Miguelenses through the So Others May Eat (S.O.M.E.) program. Volunteers from our organization gather in the courtyard of the Parroquia at 12:30 to set up and then plate and serve meals. Our thanks to Doris Tolpen, z"l, for getting us involved in this wonderful mitzvah.
- SSMA/CHESMA, AC began a community service initiative, the "Guardian Angels Program", whose mission was to make daily contact with people living alone in SMA to assure their well-being. Subscribers were given special refrigerator magnets to store vital medical information (in a bilingual format) to help the EMT's and medical personnel in the event of an emergency. It is presently "on hold" due to apparent lack of community interest in this program. We tried! Anyone interested in resurrecting this worthy program?
We urge you to personally become involved in these programs and/or donate specifically to these worthy endeavors.
Our “Mexigap” Tzedakah Project
Background: The Mexican government provides low-cost or free essential services to its people through the Seguro Popular program. However, this program often doesn't cover more complicated and expensive problems, as well as many post-hospital expenses such as certain medications and other necessary supplies.
Purpose: Our proposed “Mexigap” project was specifically developed to help pay these sorely-needed medical expenses for the most indigent residents of San Miguel de Allende.
How: We work with the existing social service programs who deal with these problems on a daily basis—the social workers at the Hospital General, DIF, and the local Health Centers. They will identify the necessary services and will have already screened the patients for financial need; cases generated there are forwarded to our Tzedakah Committee/Mexigap Sub-committee for timely review. If deemed appropriate, we help pay part of these expenses (DIF and the patient/their family pay their share). We will not prescribe or distribute medications or medical supplies.
Exclusions: We specifically do not want to duplicate other charities’ work or pay for medications or supplies that are available under the current medical system. For example, indigent children’s medical needs can often be met through the well-funded Patronato Pro Niños charity, and the local, state and federal DIF programs are specifically designed to help those in need. We therefore need to liaison with these other charities/programs in order to prevent overlapping of existing services.
Summary: In the past, the Jewish community has been generous in donating to existing charities. The "Mexigap" program is an attempt to establish our own initiative giving tzedakah (albeit though the existing social services network). It is also a way for us to work with the local government's efforts to help the people of SMA and gain some standing in the larger Mexican community.
SSMA/CHESMA, AC wishes to acknowledge and thank Marcos Raúl Díaz Domínguez, the chairman of the Mexigap Subcommittee, for all his work in making this program work!