Every summer, Israel Outdoors partners with American Healthcare Professionals & Friends for Medicine in Israel (APF) to run a free Birthright trip to Israel for Medical students and practitioners. Below is an excerpt that trip leader Dr. Jeffrey Devries wrote for the Detroit Jewish New. See More
Our Birthright adventure included many of the typical sights and experiences usually included on a first trip to Israel — the spirituality of Jerusalem’s Old City and the Kotel (Western Wall), experiencing a mountaintop sunrise after a 4:30 a.m. climb up Masada, the experience of unsinkable swimming in the Dead Sea, the beauty of Ein Gedi waterfalls, the adventure of kayaking on the Jordan River, the mysticism (and souvenir shopping) of Tzfat (Safed), and firsthand observation of the strategic value of the Golan Heights.
As a medically oriented Birthright trip, we added several medical experiences. These included a tour of Laniado Hospital in Netanya as well as a lecture by a physician from the Israel Medical Association. Another experience — rare among Birthright trips — took place at an Israel Defense Forces training base for medics and physicians, where we were privileged to observe an actual training exercise of battlefield first aid, triage and evacuation of simulated patients, complete with the realistic sounds of gunfire, flashing lights and smoke.
This provided our young students a glimpse of, and certainly an awe-inspiring appreciation for, the experiences faced by IDF soldiers, many of whom are younger than they are.
One unforgettably moving and inspiring experience was a presentation by reserve Lt. Dr. Asael Lubotzky. As an IDF medic serving in the Golani Brigade during the Second Lebanon War, he bravely rescued many soldiers (for which he was later honored), until becoming critically wounded. His response to suffering a disabling injury, requiring 15 operations and eight months in the hospital, could have understandably led to depression and withdrawal from society. Instead, he become inspired to become a physician and complete his studies at the Hebrew University Medical School. He currently serves a pediatric residency at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.