MDA ambulances waiting at Ben Gurion airport 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy MDA)
When Arthur Bondarev was asked by Bnei Akiva whether he’d rather volunteer with
the IDF or Magen David Adom he didn’t hesitate.
“I realized I’d never be
a doctor so I thought I’d do the next best thing,” said the 20-year-old German
Jew from Düsseldorf on Monday. “Besides, if I were in the army for only two
months I wouldn’t really experience what it’s like.”
Now, as he nears the
end of his time with the Israeli emergency service, Bondarev couldn’t be happier
with his decision.
During the two-month stretch he has helped elderly
citizens, bonded with the MDA staff, which treated him “like family,” and helped
save at least on person’s life.
“We were called to a barber shop in Lod
where a woman had suddenly had a heart attack,” Bondarev recalled on Monday.
“When we showed up the people at the shop had crowded around her and we went to
Initially he was slightly shaken, but Bondarev’s training soon
kicked in. For 30 minutes he and his team fought to save the 70- year-old
woman’s life until they finally succeeded.
“It was an amazing
experience,” he said.
Bondarev is part of a new “Hachshara” program
launched by Bnei Akiva, the religious- Zionist youth movement, which allows
young Diaspora Jews to spend eight months in Israel rotating between MDA, the
IDF and other organizations.
“About 20 people have taken part in the
program so far and another 140 are set to participate over the next seven
months,” said Danielle Wise, a spokesperson for the youth group. “Our aim is to
educate them on Zionism, religion and social awareness.”
Working at a
demanding place like MDA has had its highs and lows, Bondarev said. The day
after he helped save the Lod woman’s life he faced a similar situation, only
this time with a different outcome. His team was first to respond to a
30-year-old man who sustained head wounds from a fall.
“When he showed up
he was already hurt and bleeding heavily,” Bondarev said. “We tried to
resuscitate him but he was dead.” Bondarev said the experience was hard on him
but that he had tried to look on the bright side. “I saved one life but couldn’t
In between responding to rescue calls and visiting elderly
citizens in need of medical attention, Bondarev has gotten to see Israel from a
vantage point that otherwise would never have been available to him. He said he
hasn’t ruled out making aliya one day but that first he had other things on his
“I want to study financial mathematics and work on Wall Street,” he
said, “but I would love to come make aliya one day. I like it here.”