Seeking to improve upon the poor state of dental care in Israel – which disproportionately affects poorer populations – a partnership between one of the region’s oldest charitable organizations and a privately-run foundation opened its second pediatric dental clinic in the country’s northern district.

The goal of the Mazal Kryss Children’s Dental Center in Migdal Ha’Emek is to alleviate the pain and humiliation suffered by needy Israeli children by providing free treatments. It was established earlier this month by the Lotus foundation and Colel Chabad, a social-service organization founded in 1788 by the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. The partnership opened a similar clinic in Safed last year.

The Mazal Kryss center includes two dental chairs, and a staff of dentists, hygienists and receptionists, and is open 12 hours each work day. Social workers and school principals provide the bulk of patient referrals. Mayor Eli Broda designated the building for Colel Chabad’s use; Leo Kryss of Brazil provided much of the financial help to renovate the space in honor of his granddaughter Mazal.

“We provide quality and professional dental treatments, combined with individual and courteous attention to the youngest of patients,” said clinic director Rabbi Zeev Crombie. “No child should be without dental treatment just because of poverty.”

According to the Jerusalem-based Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, Israel has high rates of oral health problems in comparison to other developed nations. Using data gathered in a 1998 survey, it concluded that a full 41 percent of citizens had not visited a dentist in the prior year, while those aged 35 to 44 had a relatively high rate of tooth loss in comparison to countries such as France and Norway.

Ilan Ben Dov, who runs the Lotus organization, pledged to continue to help needy populations by establishing more centers. Rabbi Zalman Duchman of Colel Chabad added that the partnership has already begun work on a third dental clinic in Jerusalem.