Since the excruciating events on October 7, 2023, many people with a strong connection to Israel, living abroad have returned here to join in the war effort. Having served in the IDF when he was younger, Dr. Jonathan Herdevall knew that many healthcare workers would be called up to the military reserves. His planned vacation in Israel changed. Today he is volunteering at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, Israel.
Current events in Israel have led to dozens of doctors being called up for reserve duty, throughout the country. Knowing that war automatically places incredible stress on any medical system, doctors worldwide are volunteering in Israel’s hospitals. This three-part story began with two residents of the USA, Dr. Maxim Novikov and Dr. Amnon Berger, and concludes with Dr. Jonathan Herdevall, who lives in Sweden. Recognizing the need for their expertise during the current crisis, these three doctors picked up and came to Israel without hesitation to give their all – to Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam).
Thirty-five-year-old Herdevall had already planned to go on vacation in Israel just a week before the war broke out on October 7. “A week before my flight, Hamas attacked the Jewish communities surrounding Gaza,” he recalls. “From the news, it looked like it would be a world war. I felt terrible and deeply uncomfortable because I was not in Israel where I had lived some years ago. I talked to the director of the hospital where I work and asked to extend my vacation leave from a week to a month. As soon as I received permission to volunteer at Rambam, I came to Haifa. I am here to do whatever is needed.”
Born in northern Europe, Herdevall once lived in Israel and even served an elite IDF combat brigade (Givati) as a soldier. Today, his extended family lives both in Israel and in Sweden. Now that he is in Israel, Herdevall feels like an integral part of what is happening in the country. “My family in Sweden is afraid. My sister lives in Israel and is happy that I am here. My friends and colleagues in Israel and in Sweden are very supportive. An Iranian nurse I work with in Sweden sent me a message of support for Israel. I have other colleagues who conveyed similar messages, including those who have no Israeli or Jewish connection but wish to volunteer like me.” In comparison to past visits to Israel, Herdevall feels the difference from past trips. “People are stressed and fearful, but there is also a spirit of volunteering and cohesion, the embrace that Israel is so famous for.”
Sweden and its officials have expressed sympathy towards the Palestinian cause. Dr. Herdevall confirms that he too has experienced a rise in anti-Semitic sentiment. He remains strong in his resolve and goes on to say, “I am sure that the current conflict is a battle we can win. There is no doubt that we will get through this.” Hederevall believes Israel will persevere and overcome just as it has done in the past. He concludes “There is overwhelming support from many communities abroad and as well as from others who visit Israel. Israel is not alone. We are all in this together.”
All the staff at Rambam Health Care Campus extend their appreciation for the outpouring of support and the volunteering spirit. Furthermore, the fact that the international medical community has stepped up and unequivocally condemned the attacks against Israel while expressing their support has been a beacon of hope at this dark time.
Dr. Yonatan Herdevall shares his thoughts on YouTube