Lions of Judah Go on an Historic Mission to Mexico

The Lions of Judah (women who make contributions to the UJA Annual Campaign of $5,000 or more) became the first delegation of Lions from the United States to visit the Lions of Mexico when they visited from October 30 to November 3.

“The Jewish community of Mexico City reminded me in many ways of our own,” commented Women’s Philanthropy President Jody Hurwitz Caplan. “They are well-organized and committed to supporting one another. They have created a safety net to care for the most vulnerable members of their community. They are passionate about securing a vibrant Jewish future. They support Israel through their words and actions.”

Cathy Tabak, one of the mission’s co-chairs, said, “There were so many meaningful moments of this wonderful trip. Meeting the Lion of Judah women of Mexico City was very meaningful. They are so passionate about their everyday livelihood. They don’t have any professionals helping them. They do everything on their own. It’s all volunteer. They put their hearts and souls into it every day, 24-7.”

Jody was also very moved by spending time with the local Lions. “On Thursday night we met with them in a private home. Their chazzan played guitar and led us in singing Hebrew songs. Hearing our voices blend, knowing that we grew up in different places, yet we all knew the same words and melodies, reinforced for me that we are one worldwide Jewish family — Klal Yisrael. It brought me to tears.”

Other forays into Jewish Mexico City included a visit to Centro Deportivo Israelita, one of the largest Jewish community centers in the world, where they heard about dozens of local Jewish organizations and programs. A trip to the Museo Memoria y Tolerancia (Memory and Tolerance Museum) underscored the fact that teaching about tolerance and acceptance is important everywhere.

A big highlight was a visit from the Mexican-Jewish owners of a local chain of bakeries, called Debbie & Peponne Restaurants. Their first restaurant opened with the sole purpose of providing Pepe, Debbie’s brother with Down syndrome, a professional life. In preparation for opening the business, Pepe trained to be a baker and Debbie earned a business degree. With five locations, the sibling team has clearly exceeded all expectations.

Westfield resident Phyllis Buchsbaum was effusive upon her return home. “Our mission to Mexico City was fascinating, informative, uplifting, and intense. The most meaningful thing for me was meeting and learning about the Jewish community of Mexico City, past and present. Attending services on Shabbat confirmed for me the strength of the Jewish community. Here I was in a strange city and yet, when I walked into their beautiful synagogue, I felt at home! This was my first mission, and I will always remember it!”

This mission was chaired by Shari-Beth Susskind and Cathy Tabak. Click here for a gallery of photos and videos from the trip.

Please consider joining us on these upcoming Women’s Philanthropy Missions:

Mission to Memphis
April 26-29, 2020

Young Women’s Mission to Israel
July 1-9, 2020