Birthright Israel alums have been standing up for the Jewish community and showing their solidarity with Israel in many ways. It was no surprise to us to learn that when Magen David Adom Israel sought volunteers from the United States to assist with the war in Israel and help best equip the country’s needs through IL-USDocAID, that three out of the seven physicians are Birthright Israel alums. Their service in Israel began with training at Magen David Adom in Jerusalem, and then each doctor has since been assigned to a different MDA unit to provide first medical response throughout the country.

We had the opportunity to speak with a couple of the doctors about their service while on the ground in Israel. Here is what Dr. Avital Ludomirsky of New York, NY and Dr. Ilya Aylyarov, of Boynton Beach, FL have to say about their volunteering.

Q&A with Dr. Avital Ludomirsky and Dr. Ilya Aylyarov

Why do you feel it’s important to support Israel?

Dr. Avital Ludomirsky: “As an Israeli-American, I always feel it’s important to support Israel in every way possible. Ever since the October 7th Hamas terrorist attack, I have been trying to find the best way to support Israel right now. I have been here during wars in the past, but nothing has ever felt like this. As a doctor, I wanted to find a way to contribute effectively, and coming to Israel to volunteer with Magen David Adom felt like the perfect opportunity. It’s also really great to be able to be part of a diverse workforce. The crew here is composed of more observant Jews, secular Jews, Muslims, Israelis, Americans, and Arab-Israelis. It’s truly wonderful. I’m incredibly grateful to be part of this group and get to work with this organization.”

Dr. llya Aylyarov: “After the atrocities committed on October 7th, the Israeli people and Jews all around the world need our support. We’ve lost loved ones, family, friends, children, parents, and entire families have been wiped off the earth without anyone to mourn for them. And many are still trapped and held hostage even now, innocent people ripped from their lives to be used as leverage. If you believe that Jews deserve a homeland where they can live peacefully and safely, then you understand why we just support Israel now more than ever.”

Can you share more about what it is like to be in Israel right now?

Dr. Avital Ludomirsky: “Being in Israel at this moment feels right. I am not sure how else to describe it. Israel has always felt like home for me and when your homeland is under attack, you want to be there, with family and friends. Sure, there’s also some fear and stress. I’ve been caught by alarms, indoors, in a train, on the highway…but everyone knows what to do and then, once the siren stops, life goes on.

Dr. llya Aylyarov: “Right now Israel is somber. The streets are quiet. It’s eerie, other than the sound of rockets or sirens warning residents to flee to shelter. People aren’t smiling, they’re not joyful. The entire country is mourning. I’ve never seen Tel Aviv so empty even during the holidays. But Israelis are also proud of who they are, proud of their nation and their people. They are volunteering to help one another and to serve their country. They are more united than I have ever seen and I am most impressed by their resilience and bravery.”

What do you want the world to know about Israel and the Israeli people?

Dr. Avital Ludomirsky: “Israelis are strong and I am constantly impressed by them. That being said, there’s sadness and anger in Israel right now about October 7, about the current war, and about the loss of life on both sides. Nevertheless, being here is an incredible reminder that yes, AM YISRAEL CHAI!”

Dr. Ilya Aylyarov: “The world needs to know that Israeli people want peace. They want safety and security for their families and loved ones. Israel is such a small country that a single hostage or victim of terror is a personal loss to everyone. They all feel it. They want the hostages to be reunited with their people and to rid the region of terrorism and extremism.”