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Magen David Adom (MDA) was organized in 1930 in Tel Aviv as a volunteer "shoestring" operation by a group of seven Israeli doctors, as a one-room emergency medical service. A second MDA group formed in Haifa in 1931 and a third in Jerusalem in 1934. In 1935, a national organization was formed to provide medical services to the public and the Hagana. Its founding members were physicians, members of the Hagana and private citizens. During the 1936-39 Arab Riots, MDA gave first-aid training to the Hagana and the auxiliary police and medical aid to the wounded. During World War II, MDA worked within the general framework of Israel's Civil Defense Organization, as an arm of the Jewish Legion of the British Forces.

In July of 1950, the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) ratified the Magen David Adom Law, which charged MDA with responsibility for: 1) Providing auxiliary service to Israel's Army Medical Corps in wartime, including providing emergency medical care for the wounded and war refugees. 2) Providing civilian emergency and medical and first-aid services and temporary shelter in emergency situations. 3) Maintaining a blood bank for civilian use. Subsequently, MDA has played a major role in providing vital lifesaving services during each of Israel's wars, skirmishes and terrorist attacks; as well as in times of peace.

MDA was founded in Tel Aviv in June 1930 as a response to the riots of 1929 which made people realize, that they lacked first aid services to protect themselves in the face of emergencies. To fill this urgent need, seven public spirited men set up a First Aid Society called Magen David Adom -The Red Shield of David. MDA's first home was a shop on the corner of Rothschild and Nahalat Benyamin Streets and its only resource was a small van converted into an ambulance and a few dozen volunteers. Throughout the 1930's and 1940's it was recognized by the Mandate authorities as the 'Red Cross' society of the country and became the medical service of the Haganah with MDA members serving as first-aiders alongside the Haganah fighters. With the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, leading members of MDA were involved in setting up the medical corps of the Israeli Defense Forces. In 1950, the Knesset passed the Magen David Adom law which gave MDA recognition by the government of Israel as "the sole organization entrusted to carry out in Israel the functions assigned by the Geneva Convention national societies of the Red Cross or other volunteer aid societies..,"



50th anniversary of Magen David Adom


What is a Magen?

It is the shield of King David, father of King Solomon, of the David and Goliath story fame. Archaeologists have discovered stones and artifacts with the symbol on them.


The "Magen David" (David shield), the six points star made of two triangles, appeared, according the Jewish tradition on the shield of King David. According to the same tradition the same symbols appeared also on King Solomon's ring and therefore it is also called "Solomon Seal". This symbol was considered to have magical powers and as a defense from the evil spirits. Such symbol without any connection to Judaism was found in India.

The symbol was also considered as magical by the Moslems (as Solomon Seal) and appeared as the symbol of Nigeria. It was also used by the Ethiopians monarchs who, according to their tradition, were the descendants of King Solomon and Queen of Sheva, and was also named there as Solomon Seal. The MD was used by Jews for decoration and appeared as an official Jewish symbol for the first time in 1354 when the Jewish community in Prague received the right to have a flag of its own and chose the MD as the symbol on the flag.


In the 15th Century the MD was used as a trademark for Jewish printers in Prague, Amsterdam and Italy, and in 1655 it was used on Vienna Jewish community seal and soon afterwards also by the Jewish community in Amsterdam. In the 19th century the MD was used almost by all Jews as their symbol and it was used for Synagogue decoration, seals and letters. When the first Zionist groups (Bilu, Hovevei Zion etc.) started their activities in 1881, they adopted the MD for their symbols. The MD also appeared at the first edition of Herzl's newspaper "Die Welt" in 1897.


Even though the MD is known as the Jewish symbol, the Jewish people have another symbol which is the "Menorah" which is also the emblem of the State of Israel and its origin is already in the Bible. The emblem is based on the engraving of the Menorah of the Temple in Jerusalem as appears on Titus Gate in Rome. The destiny of the original Menorah is unknown.