“Helping Others, Helping Ourselves”



By Sharon Rapoport

In 2005, Hurricane Stan devastated Chiapas Mexico, causing many casualties and leaving thousands of people without food, clothes and other essential necessities. Five members of the Mexican Jewish community volunteered to personally transport and deliver food, clothing, and medication to the disaster area.

The goods were collected by the Jewish community in Mexico City, and taken directly to families in despair. Everything was distributed hand by hand, ensuring that the aid reached those who needed it most. This was not only their chance to help the most vulnerable, but also an opportunity to portray the Jewish community’s commitment and willingness to help.

That´s how CADENA (Chain) Foundation was created; when the group realized that “by helping others we were also helping ourselves.” Fast-forward to 2017, and Cadena has evolved into a group of more than 2,000 Jewish and non-Jewish volunteers of all ages, and opened offices in Israel, Argentina, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Miami, Argentina and now, San Diego.

The group has helped more than 553,175 people in 137 missions throughout the world; distributed 1,106 tons of food; 2,299 water filters and 360,342 clothing items. The volunteers have conducted 8,779 medical consultations; 197 psychological consults, and 2,847 dental procedures.

Cadena’s emergency missions are integrated by a Rescue Team which is trained in Israel. They use a device that was developed with Israeli technology, which helps locate live people who are trapped under debris in the case of a structural collapse. Also on the team are doctors, psychologists and social workers; and Enzo, a search and rescue dog.

Cadena’s missions have helped local populations following the earthquakes in Haiti (2010), Turkey (2012), Nepal (2015), Ecuador (2016), Belize (2016), Costa Rica (2016), Haiti (2017). They brought assistance to victims of Kenya’s hunger crisis (2012), the typhoons in Indonesia (2013) and Vanuatu (2015), the fires in Chile (2014) and the floods in Guatemala (2015).

The non-profit has served as the vehicle to collect and distribute Humanitarian Aid gathered by Jewish congregations, schools, and other institutions to help anyone and everyone, without distinction, who has been affected by any natural disaster. Its mission is to reduce the vulnerability of the population that live at a constant risk of natural disasters and make a significant contribution to improving their living conditions. This is accomplished through three fundamental factors:

  1. Help– React or respond immediately to the care of victims of natural disasters and emergencies.
  2. Educate – Generate awareness and action in the community towards natural disasters and emergencies.
  3. Transmit – Integrate groups of people and promote solidarity without taking into consideration place of origin, economic status, gender, religion or beliefs.


The Mission

An essential part of Cadena´s mission is to teach children that helping others should be a part of our daily lives, instilling in them the value of tikkun olam. Thus, they have partnered with schools, universities, community centers, Macabi, and other organizations, implementing educational programs which focus on “creating a better world for our children but also better children for our world.”

Despite Cadena’s active participation in worldwide missions, all the human and financial resources for those missions have depended solely on Jewish communities and institutional sponsors in Mexico. Their global expansion was a result of the realization that creating a network of humanitarian aid would strengthen their ability to respond faster and to reach more people in despair.

Cadena’s official presence in San Diego will bring educational opportunities for youth, and the possibility of participating in an emergency or preventive mission to different parts of the world.


If you are interested in learning more, please contact Nataly Sutton or David Garber



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