April 19, 2019

Israeli Medic on Being a ‘Clown’, Saving Lives

From left: AFMDA Women’s Region Members Susi Bashner Weissman, Dina Leeds, Tal Rabin, Ruth Flinkman-Marandy, Jackie Rosenberg, Jacqueline Burdorf and Yossi Mentz.

Standing in the middle of her Century City penthouse with sweeping views of Los Angeles, Dina Leeds told 40 assembled female community leaders, “We take every day of this month of Elul to prepare for going into the [High Holy Days]. We tell God that we’re here to do our particular good in this world.”

That good includes Leeds’ role as the Western region board president for the American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA). Leeds’ speech was part of an exclusive Women’s Division of AFMDA luncheon held at the end of August. 

The event kicked off with a warm welcome from Leeds and the sounding of the shofar by AFMDA Western Region Executive Director Yossi Mentz. 

“When you see women getting together, women of this caliber, to support our people, to support the State of Israel, to support Israel’s humanitarian effort not only to its people [but] around the world in natural disasters, in humanitarian relief, in technology, we are here to give, and we fulfill our purpose,” Leeds said.

The special guest at the event was Tal Rabin, a 28-year-old senior MDA paramedic, instructor and medical student at Tel Aviv University. Using slides, Rabin, who began working with MDA in 2004 and became a paramedic in 2008, spoke about her journey in helping others, including her participation in a delegation to Nepal after a 2015 earthquake, and her most recent visit to Guatemala in the wake of the Fuego volcanic eruption in June. 

“Rabin told the Journal that she signed up to be a medical clown for her teen community service in Israel and then decided to be a youth volunteer for MDA ‘for fun.'”

Rabin recalled how her boss called her after the June 3 eruption and asked her when her finals started. When she told him they began in nine days, he said, ‘Never mind.’ But after hearing what had happened, Rabin said, ‘I have to finish up my homework,’ but then agreed to go to Guatemala.

Speaking of the destruction she encountered there, Rabin also spoke about the amazing results delegation members discovered using the pineapple enzyme they brought from Israel, which removes dead skin tissue and reduces the need for post-burn surgeries. 

After her presentation, Rabin told the Journal that she signed up to be a medical clown for her teen community service in Israel and then decided to be a youth volunteer for MDA “for fun.” She quickly
went from volunteer to instructor, before doing her compulsory three-year military service starting at the age of 18. Rabin served as a combat medic in the Israel Defense Forces and returned to MDA after completing her military service. 

“I love doing what I do,” she said. “I feel like part of my job is to be that person who is in the wrong place at the wrong time for the right reasons.”

Even when she’s not on duty, Rabin said she is always on alert for accidents. “I really believe that whoever’s in need, whoever you can help, you should help. For me, that is part of being a Jew and part of being Israeli and part of being Magen David Adom.”

Rabin added that she was thrilled to attend the luncheon. “I’m really excited that I get to say thank you,” she said. “I save lives, but I couldn’t save as many lives without the help from these people.”