Dr. Steve Katz of Connecticut recently traveled to Israel, but lying on a Tel Aviv beach on the shores of the Mediterranean or trekking up the awe-inspiring face of Masada wasn’t a part of the retired dentist’s itinerary. Instead, Dr. Katz spent his “vacation” volunteering at the DVI clinic. He returns every year because he knows how much it means to the kids he treats, and how helping them fills his heart.


Dr. Steve Katz pictured with three special-needs children from the same family who are receiving care at DVI.

When I was asked to write a few words about my DVI volunteer experience I hesitated. That said, I think it is important for those who have not gone to hear from those of us who have.

My first trip to Israel was in 2008 and I fell in love with the place. By place I not only mean Israel, but the DVI clinic, the wonderful staff, and the children. I found it to be a real treat to meet and work with dentists from other parts of the U.S. and from around the world. We all share much in common. As dentists, we all know that it is a wonderful feeling to help someone in dental need. That is what we have trained for. That is what we do. From these procedures we create a living for ourselves and our families and we accept happily the gratitude of our patients. This gives our professional lives meaning and purpose.

It is different, though, to give of your time and skill to those who cannot afford routine dental treatment. Knowing that you are providing relief from pain or the cosmetic and functional restoration of their mouths leaves you with an inner satisfaction that is impossible to fully describe; it must be felt. The feeling is so strong that I have been back to DVI many times.

I will relate two stories to you from my trips. The first pertains to the treatment of a young man whose older brother, an IDF soldier, had just been killed in the Gaza war. I felt so moved to have been able to do a little something for this boy who was suffering from the loss of his brother. The second story deals with a teenage boy who was suffering with a severe toothache. He was very frightened by everything dental, from the anesthesia through the procedure. When we finished, he got up from the chair and said, with a slightly crooked smile and a few tears, “Toda!” (Thank you!) and gave me a big hug. As my assistant, Michal would say, “That was the best!”

Those of you who have gone have your own stories and experiences. Those of you who have not gone need to go!

Read more stories about DVI’s patients and dentist volunteers HERE.

Make your tax-deductible donation HERE!