Escaping War In Kyiv, Just In Time To Give Birth At Shaare Zedek

Kyiv locals, Chani Kochav Lev and her husband Eliezer, made the difficult decision to flee Ukraine as the war picked up, and the threat of attack increased. That brave decision proved particularly fortuitous as the couple were blessed with the birth of their healthy baby boy at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem last week.

Before the war, Chani was working as a Jewish day school teacher in Kyiv. The couple were living in the Ukranian capital as emissaries on behalf of the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, Rabbi Bleich.

The due date for the baby had turned out to be on the very day that the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. Chani recalled, “if the baby had been early, we likely couldn’t have evacuated in time and we would have been caught up in this horrific situation.”

“While we were in the delivery room we were constantly being updated with the news and we really feel a part of what is going on there. It’s very much a bittersweet feeling as we are blessed with this baby alongside being inundated from the community WhatsApp groups of how our fellow community members are hiding out in the Beit Knesset (synagogue) as only some of them were able to flee west to Poland.”

Chani and Eliezer initially planned to return to their home in Kyiv soon after giving birth, but now, as the war continues and no one knows what lies ahead, the couple remains safely in Israel.

“As I looked down at our baby I can’t stop thinking about how this war will affect his future and all our futures. It’s an extremely complicated situation. We’re hearing all sorts of rumors about homes being looted and tanks rolling through the streets. As of now, we have no home to return to,” she says.

The first people they informed about the birth were family members back in Kyiv. “We so wanted to be able to give them happy news and indeed they all rejoiced with us and stood up and started dancing right there in their shelter.”

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