(Courtesy of DVI) Dr. Robbie Grunstein flew to Israel in May to see his family, and, per usual, volunteer at the Trudi Birger Dental Clinic through a special program called 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, thanks to philanthropic support and visiting volunteer dentists from around the world.
Volunteer dentists from around the world, together with their Israeli colleagues, perform over 1,000 treatments each month; 5,000 dentists have volunteered in the past 40 years,
Dr. Grunstein frequently volunteered at DVI throughout the pandemic, helping to keep the clinic open when the overwhelming majority of DVI’s foreign dentists couldn’t get to Israel. “I love working at DVI, because they’re always at the forefront of compassion, so whether it’s orphans, Holocaust survivors or now Ukrainian refugees, DVI is there,” he said.
Almost 24,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Israel since the Russian invasion on February 24. About one third are anticipated to make aliyah. A significant number of the refugees are not Jewish. DVI wishes to treat as many of these refugees as possible whether they are making aliyah, whether they are Jewish or not.
With the sudden influx of refugees, DVI’s volunteer coordinator, Sharon Spira, quickly built relationships with various individuals and groups. As a result, DVI’s Michelle Levine stated: “DVI’s referral base continues to grow—and we stand ready to treat as many Ukrainian refugees as possible.” DVI is also partnering with a children’s home recently relocated from Shatner, Ukraine, to Nes Harim in Israel. When DVI Director Dr. Roy Petel met with the Nes Harim social worker he said, “I was so moved by the story of their perilous escape from Ukraine, and from the generosity of Chabad to transport all of the refugees that had simply taken shelter in the Shatner orphanage, I decided in this case to treat every patient of every age. DVI is privileged to provide totally free dental care to this entire group.”
The Goodrich family managed to cross over to Hungary and arrived in Israel after a harrowing journey. Feige, age 4, suffered from so much oral pain that she hadn’t taken solid food for almost a month since landing in Israel. One of the first things this family searched for was dental care. A family helping out the Goodrichs’ found the DVI clinic; they received an appointment immediately and Feige’s needs were addressed. DVI also addressed the needs of Goodrich and his pregnant wife Eliora. “It is like a miracle from the heavens that you’re treating me today, before I give birth, when I’m in so much pain,”said Eliora Goodrich.
“At this time, with what’s going on in the world, it’s so gratifying getting to help Ukrainian refugees, considering what they’ve gone through and how traumatized they are,” said Grunstein.
For more information about DVI, visit www.dental-dvi.org.il or email [email protected].
Dr. Grunstein practices dentistry in Passaic and Hudson counties and can be reached at [email protected].