Seventy years after her great-grandfather volunteered as a medic with the Magen David Adom emergency service, Ilana, who was born and lives in Brazil, came full circle and arrived in Israel to volunteer with MDA. She participates in a special MDA program for youth from abroad run by the Israel Experience company, an educational subsidiary of the Jewish Agency.
Moshe Darevski, Ilana Smeltz’s great-grandfather, who was born in Poland and immigrated to Israel in 1933 as a young pioneer, volunteered for many years with MDA in Tel Aviv. He fought in the 1948 War of Independence as a medic and is commemorated on the Builders of the City Square, a monument to those who built the city of Tel Aviv. He died at age 83.
Miriam Smaletz, Ilana’s grandmother, left Israel on a trip to Brazil in the 1960s, fell in love with a local Jewish man, and settled down in Sao Paulo. Ilana’s father, Oren, an oncologist, represented Brazil in the World Bible Quiz in Jerusalem in his youth and dreamt of coming to live in Israel. Ilana studied medicine in Boston, and, inspired by her great-grandfather’s volunteering with MDA, decided to come full circle and volunteer to save lives in Israel as he had done.
Sponsored by the Habonim Dror youth movement, Ilana arrived in Israel recently to participate in the MDA program under the auspices of Israel Experience which helps some 400 young Jews a year from around the world to receive first aid training and volunteer with the MDA emergency service stations and ambulances.