Thanks to a partnership between the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Dental Medicine and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), 3,500 underprivileged children in 24 Israeli cities have received free dental care.
The project was initiated three years ago when Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, head of IFCJ, approached Hadassah with the idea for this collaborative venture. Hadassah’s School of Dental Medicine has a history of sending its students into local communities to offer free dental care. IFCJ, through donations from supporters of Israel around the world, helps disadvantaged populations in Israel with immigration and absorption, general welfare, and security in times of emergency. To date, the Fellowship has donated over $250 million for projects in Israel.
The dental project began in three towns and several neighborhoods of Jerusalem. It proved extremely valuable, particularly since these services are not covered by Israel’s National Health Insurance. Now in its third year, the project continues to expand into more cities. “What amazes me,” relates Rabbi Eckstein, “is that the project has not only decreased the pain the children are experiencing, but has also helped them concentrate better in school.” He noted also that the dental treatments boosted the children’s self-esteem and helped them integrate socially into their communities.