October 5, 2008 / 6 Tishrei 5769
For Jessica Danial, an opportunity to volunteer for Magen David Adom not only brought her to Israel, but deep into the hearts of the people and home that she loved. “Certain life experiences are so different, so unique and exciting that you not only carry their memory, they become a part of your identity," explains Daniel, "and the Jewish Agency-sponsored Magen David Adom (MDA) Ambulance Volunteer Program had that affect on me.”
A 20-year-old student from Los Angeles, Danial spent her youth supporting and advocating for Israel. As a teenager and college student she was active volunteer in Jewish activities, from raising money for Magen David Adom to participating in the American Jewish World Service (AJWS). She visited Israel frequently with her family, but in 2007 she participated in birthright, her first educational peer trip to Israel. The formative ten-day trip made a significant impact on Jessica. What she had previously learned about in classrooms on TV had suddenly sprung to life; and she was interested in experiencing more 'real life' Israel.
Upon completing her sophomore year at UCLA, where she is studying psychology, Jessica wanted to return to Israel for a short time before starting her junior year. Magen David Adom offered Jessica the perfect opportunity to experience Israel on a more intimate – and intense – level.
Run in conjunction with the Jewish Agency, the Magen David Adom Ambulance Volunteer Program offers young people from across the globe an opportunity to volunteer as emergency first responders, saving lives, rescuing those in distress and strengthening connections to Israel. Participants receive two weeks of intensive training and are then dispersed to MDA stations across Israel, with accommodations and support provided by the Jewish Agency.
After completing her service with MDA in July in Tel Aviv, Jessica relocated to Jerusalem to study Hebrew at the Hebrew University. Though she returned to the States to continue her BA studies in LA, she considers Israel her second home and a central part of her life. She also feels very strongly about the decision to come to Israel, volunteer and actively – personally – contribute to Israeli society. “Volunteer programs in Israel bring the giving experience to life,” Jessica explains. “Jewish fundraising and education can connect a person to Israel, however that is not enough. Volunteering for Magen David Adom creates awareness within its participants of their surroundings, their country, their people, and their own potential.”
As she forges her way into Israeli society, Jessica has built a tremendous network of mentors and peers through her experience with MDA who serve as her community and family for support and guidance. Jessica is proud to state that she is not just a tourist in Israel, but rather an active, motivated MDA volunteer. She carries the names, faces and memories of her MDA experiences with her as she looks forward to many more in her future in Israel.