About Us

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About Dental Volunteers for Israel

DVI at a Glance

  • More than 200,000 children live in poverty in Jerusalem
  • The Trudi Birger Dental Clinic is the only free facility of its kind
  • Children from all religious and ethnic groups are treated at the clinic
  • Every child that comes to the clinic participates in an oral health education session with their family to promote healthy habits for life
  • Thousands of dentists from around the world have volunteered for DVI, and many return year after year
  • DVI provides visiting dentists and their families with a free apartment in Jerusalem, and most dentists can write off a good portion of their trip as a business expense
  • Historically, 95% of DVI’s budget is paid for by charitable donations
  • Since 2000, Henry Schein Cares has provided DVI with its clinical supplies

Dental Volunteers for Israel provides free dental care to Jerusalem’s most underprivileged children. There is no other organization that provides comprehensive dental care and education to disadvantaged children in Israel for free. DVI has won awards from the Mayor of Jerusalem, the Israel Ministry of Health, and the Movement for a Better Israel, which lauded DVI for encouraging brotherhood and tolerance by treating children and youth of all racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. The clinic is now handicapped-accessible and also treats indigent elderly and Holocaust survivors in dire need of care. Visit the main site at http://dental-dvi.org.il/ .

The state-of-the-art Trudi Birger Dental Clinic has been providing care for 40 years. Dentists from around the world play an integral part in volunteering their services, which can range from routine to complex dental procedures. DVI also runs a comprehensive preventative dental care program to help young patients develop good long-term oral health habits. This work is made possible not only by the dentists who come to Israel and donate their time and expertise but also by businesses and individuals – people like YOU! – who donate supplies, equipment, and financial resources for our operating budget.

More than half of Jerusalem’s children are living in poverty, and more than 83% of low-income families cannot afford dental care for their children. Each year, volunteer dentists from around the world provide more than 11,000 treatments to children and youth in need.

In September 2016 the clinic expanded its services to provide free preliminary care and dentures to needy seniors, including Holocaust survivors. The Smiles for Seniors program provides free dentures to over 100 seniors in need, half of them Holocaust survivors, each year.

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Canadian Friends of DVI supports the work of Dental Volunteers for Israel through fundraising and recuritment of volunteers from Canada.

Trudi Birger
Trudi Birger – Founder of DVI

About Trudi Birger (1927-2002)

Trudi Birger was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1927. Her childhood ended with the Nazi occupation. A few years later, she and her mother were sent off to the camps, suffering forced labor and the ever-present threat of death.

Miraculously, Trudi was saved from death not once but dozens of times- by her will to live, her quick wit and her self-confidence. Her experience in the ghetto and camps as a child left an indelible mark on her.

After miraculously surviving the dangerous conditions in the Nazis concentration camps, Trudi moved to Israel and vowed to make her life as meaningful as possible. She donated vast amounts of time and energy to her volunteer work to help the poor, which included “adopting” fifty poor families in a Jerusalem neighborhood named Romema.

Realizing that children from poor families in Israel would never have the privilege to see the inside of a dental clinic, Trudi decided she would somehow find a way to provide them with state of the art dentistry, free of charge. Without any resources, except for her powerful and influential personality and assistance from her personal friends, she set out to fulfill her goal. In 1980 she founded the Dental Volunteers for Israel organization (D.V.I.), to provide comprehensive dental care and oral health education to impoverished children.

Her efforts over the next twenty-two years made it possible for thousands of underprivileged children to receive much needed dental care. In September 2003, the clinic was renamed the Trudi Birger Dental Clinic in her memory.

“God, I called, if I survive I will do whatever I can to make sure that no children will suffer the way that I have.”
– Trudi Birger

Trudi_memorial_plaque
Trudi Birger, DVI – Memorial Plaque

In an excerpt from her memoir, Trudi describes her ambition and motivation for creating Dental Volunteers for Israel, the project that she dedicated the majority of the last twenty-two years of her life.

“In my work with the poor families of Jerusalem, I soon saw that dental care was entirely beyond their means, and that they had all the wrong habits: they gave their children too many sweets in compensation for the hard life they lived, and they didn’t teach their children to brush their teeth at all, let alone after every meal. Neither the Ministry of Health nor the country’s health insurance programs had funds to provide dental care, so the children’s teeth were simply rotting in their heads. The only hope was volunteer dentists. But who? And how? I knew that Israeli dentists, who spend at least a month in the army every year, would be unable to volunteer, but why not recruit volunteer dentists from abroad?

I started talking to people about my idea, and within a month or two I had enlisted six volunteer dentists from France. They agreed to come and work in Jerusalem during the summer of 1979. But where? My next problem was to find a place to house the clinic and to obtain and install the equipment. To make a long and intense story brief, I took a quick trip back to Israel in late 1978 to establish a nonprofit corporation to run my dental clinic. I also arranged to rent and renovate an old house. Upon returning to France, I persuaded a French dental supplier to donate twenty tons of the best equipment. Then I talked to Zim, the Israeli shipping company, into transporting it for free. I cleared the equipment through customs with a personal guarantee that I had no way of backing at the time, and by the summer the clinic was in operation.’

Since then, the Trudi Birger Dental Clinic has constantly expanded its pool of volunteer dentists, and today hundreds of dentists from Europe, Asia, Australia, North and South America all pay their own way to Israel and work in our clinic for two-week shifts, some as often as every year, some even more often. Our patients are referred by the welfare office, and, of course, we treat both Jewish and Arab children. We require them to attend classes in dental hygiene as a condition for receiving treatment. Thousands of children have passed through our clinic.