For years, John Bengston described his trips to a dental clinic established by Holocaust survivor Trudy Berger as religious, sociological and professionally fulfilling experiences.
His trip to the Middle East earlier this year had even more significance.
“This is a very special year for Israel because 60 years ago (in May 1948), the Jewish people were reunited with the land of Israel after 2000 years in exile,” said Bengston.
“No people in world history have been exiled for two millenniums and returned to it with their language and religion preserved,” he added.
For the Christian world, it was an event prophesied in scripture and revealed in our generation as a witness of God’s faithfulness, Bengston said.
On his latest trip, the Bengstons met Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, an Orthodox Jew who earned the President’s Volunteer Prize for founding the Yad Sarah organization in 1976 to aid the elderly, disabled, sick and lonely.
Lupolianski has been hailed for his work to create dialogue between Jerusalem residents of all religious faiths. He established a working relationship with Arab mukhtars (village leaders) in East Jerusalem and worked to diffuse tension created by Temple Mount walkway renovations.
Under his mayoral leadership, more emphasis has been placed on immigrant absorption and assistance.
High-tech workers who live and work in Jerusalem are eligible for monthly grants to pay for some of their living expenses.
Other dentists who have made the trip to Jerusalem included Dr. Brian Putnam of Novato, Calif., that city’s only dentist with specialized training in pediatric dentistry.
He described the Trudy Berger Clinic waiting room in a March 26. 2008 story in the Novato Advance.
“I think it had the most remarkable waiting room in the world,” Putnam said. “Israelites were sitting next to Arabs, who were sitting next to Coptic Christians and Russian immigrants. These people normally wouldn’t sit together, but they shared a love and concern for their children’s teeth.”
Pro bono dental work in Israel is aimed heavily at preventing early childhood tooth decay due to non-floridated water. The ailment can cause children’s teeth to become dark and crumbly.
Dr. David Bengston of Winthrop and an Israeli dental assistant care for a youth at the Trudy Berger Dental Clinic in Jerusalem.