The couple and their new baby
The couple and their new babyCourtesy of Shaare Zedek Medical Center

Until the war arrived, Chani Kochav Lev, 26 was a teacher living in Kyiv. But with the threat of attack increasing by the hour, she and her husband Eliezer fled Ukraine. That quick decision proved particularly fortuitous as the couple were blessed to give birth this week to a baby boy at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

The due date for the baby had turned out to be on the very day that the Russian invasion of Ukraine began and Chani points out, “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.” .

The couple live in the Ukrainian capital as emissaries on behalf of the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, Rabbi Bleich, and for the past year and a half Chani has been teaching at a local Jewish day school.

“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 synagogue, as only some of them were able to flee west to Poland.”

Now safely in Israel, the plan had been to return to Kyiv soon after the birth, but obviously now the couple doesn’t know what lies ahead.

“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.”