Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Friday,
Oct 24th

Local dentist volunteers at Jerusalem dental clinic during Operation Protective Edge

E-mail Print PDF

Dr. Arlene SteinDENVER dentist Dr. Arlene Stein arrived in Israel on July 11 to spend two weeks volunteering at the Trudi Birger Dental Clinic in Jerusalem, through Dental Volunteers for Israel (DVI).

DVI provides free dental care and oral health education to thousands of needy children in Jerusalem every year, regardless of race and religion.

Holocaust survivor Trudi Birger suffered greatly as a child during WW II.

At that time she vowed to help prevent the suffering of other children if she should survive.

As a successful microbiologist in Israel, she began to fulfill that vow, working with needy children.

Birger soon identified dental problems as a common cause of terrible suffering of impoverished children.

In 1980, when the Israeli government cut dental care from public health programs, she found her cause.

Birger established Dental Volunteers for Israel that year and oversaw the organization for the remainder of her life.

Inspired by Birger’s devotion to Jerusalem’s children and by the rewards of working in the clinic, the volunteer dentists from around the world picked up where Birger left off.

The Birger clinic provides critical services to the poverty stricken communities of Jerusalem. With a total population of a 800,000, Jerusalem has over 200,000 children and youth living under the poverty line.

Volunteer dentists from around the world, together with their Israeli colleagues, perform between 1,000 and 1,200 treatments each month.

In 2013, 124 volunteer dentists from around the world performed 13,000 treatments, helping thousands of needy Jerusalem children stay in school.

During the past 34 years, over 4,500 dentists have volunteered through Dental Volunteers for Israel.

STEIN first got involved with Dental Volunteers for Israel (DVI) based on the recommendation of a former professor.

She volunteered the first time in 2011, and has come back with the program every year since.

Dr. Stein said, “It’s all great when I’m here. I love the people I work with, and the patients are terrific.”

Dentists from around the world have a loyalty to Jerusalem and Israel that goes beyond the dental work.

In Stein’s case, she made the decision to continue with her volunteer work in spite of war, Operation Protective Edge.

On July 12, her second day in Israel, Stein was on a beach in Tel Aviv after an enjoyable meal when she heard a loud collision in the sky above.

She stood up to join a crowd of onlookers as they watched three missiles shot from the Gaza Strip shoot across the sky. During the following half hour period, Stein witnessed the Iron Dome, the Israeli air defense system, intercept each of the three missiles.

It was “amazing,” she said.

According to Stein, bright flashes of light were expelled from the intercepted missiles, followed several seconds later by a big “boom!”

The incident did not deter Stein from her service. In fact, she talked about the confidence that the experience instilled in her.

“I’ve heard of the Iron Dome intercepting missiles, but seeing it happen before my eyes reassured me that the situation can be controlled.”

She headed back to the apartment in which she was staying in the German Colony neighborhood of Jerusalem to continue her dental work.

Volunteer dentists come to know Jerusalem better than most tourists and help improve the quality of life in the Holy City’s neighborhoods that are caught in a cycle of poverty.

Though Israel is currently experiencing some disharmony and unrest, Dr. Stein’s volunteer work has contributed to a broader sense of unity for the nation.

“I get to help youth disease — in fact, 80% of all cavities occur in just 25% of kids,” says Stein.

The level of dental decay in kids who come to the volunteer dentists is shocking to these dentists. Lack of access to dental care directly affects the matriculation and academic success of low-income children, and is directly tied to the cycle of poverty.

Those children living below the poverty line have problems with their teeth due to poor diet, lack of oral hygiene habits, inability to access regular dental treatment or unawareness of the importance of such treatment and prevention.

More children arrive at the clinic every year seeking care.

“We provide dental care in an apolitical way, as we treat both Arab and Israeli children,” Stein says.

“It’s a small way that I can help Israel.”

Information: www.americanfriendsofdvi.org/ or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Jenna Erickson is a student at Brigham Young University, who plans to attend dental school and is a volunteer with Dental Volunteers for Israel.

 

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Two Israelis killed in Nepal bus accident

Julie Wiener Two Israelis were killed and at least three wounded in a tourist bus accident Friday in Nepal. ... [Link]

From the Archive: The funeral (and TV movie) of Klinghoffer

Raffi Wineburg Decades before thousands would show up to protest “The Death of Klinghoffer,” over 1,000 came to honor the death of Klinghoffer. ... [Link]

Rabbi Dr. Judith Abrams, pioneering online Talmud teacher, dies at 56

Raffi Wineburg Rabbi Dr. Judith Abrams, founder and director of online Talmud study program MAQOM and author of numerous books, has died. ... [Link]

Nominations open for NBN Bonei Zion Prize for outstanding immigrants

Marcy Oster Nominations have opened for the Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize recognizing outstanding English-speaking immigrants to Israel. ... [Link]

Lawyers for Palestinian-American woman want to bar terrorism from trial

Marcy Oster Lawyers for an American of Palestinian descent accused of concealing her conviction on terrorist bombings in Israel are seeking to bar references to terrorism at her trial. ... [Link]

Israeli envoy: Jordan king blasting Israel to appease his Arab allies

Cnaan Liphshiz Israel’s ambassador to Jordan suggested that King Abdullah’s recent claim that Israel kills Arab children en masse stems from pressure by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt. ... [Link]

Danish health director: No reason to ban circumcision

Cnaan Liphshiz Denmark’s national health authority does not think non-medical circumcision is risky enough to justify a ban on it, the body’s director said. ... [Link]

European rabbis seek laws singling out anti-Semitic hate speech

Cnaan Liphshiz European rabbis called on governments throughout the continent to pass laws targeting hate speech against Jews. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942
email@ijn.com • larry@ijn.com • lori@ijn.com