[photo YuvalAsner align=left] SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) – Yuval Asner of South Bend, Ind., spent the year between college and medical school with Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps as a health advocacy fellow with the Medicare Rights Center in New York.
Asner, a self-identified secular Jew, majored in Jewish studies as an undergraduate and wanted to take a year off to do service with a Jewish component.
He spent the 2003-04 academic year living in a communal house with other Avodah volunteers, helping low-income New Yorkers gain access to health care, sometimes representing them in court.
“It was very high level work for someone just out of college,” says Asner, 26, now a third-year medical student at Indiana University in Indianapolis. “It was immensely rewarding and related to what I wanted to do.”
The year he devoted to this Jewish service program “definitely” affected his future plans.
“It gave me a realistic view of what it’s like to have difficulty accessing health care in the United States,” he says.
Asner is now pursuing a master’s degree in public health and policy studies along with his medical degree, and plans to work with the underserved throughout his career.
“Maybe by then we’ll have universal health care,” he suggests wryly.