Since the war started, Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem has experienced a record-breaking number of births. Jodi Stender has worked at Shaare Zedek since 2013, originally as a NICU nurse and the last 6 years as a midwife.

“As a midwife, I have the honour of assisting new souls as they come into this world. It’s a privilege that countless women have granted me by allowing me to share their birth experiences. Since October 7, I’ve felt this privilege even more. As the news filled with grim reports of death and carnage, creating an overwhelming sense of sadness, I continued to bring new, innocent and beautiful life into this world and the spirituality and hope felt in the delivery room has intensified enormously.  God’s presence in the delivery room is almost palpable.  Every neshama that has come into the world since Oct 7 symbolises our strength and belief that as a Jewish nation, we will flourish with G-d’s support.

The labouring women of Israel post Oct 7th are ‘Wonder Women’. True heroes. The strength I have seen them demonstrate while birthing, as their husbands fought to protect the country, as their families were transplanted from their homes to safer areas, and as the sirens roared around them, is remarkable.”

A woman who came in to the hospital right after October 7 was really on edge and kept saying: “I just can’t have a baby now, there’s a war, sirens… How am I going to bring this baby into the world now?”

Jodi told her that babies are meant to come into the world at the moment that is best for both the mother and the baby, and if this is the time your baby is supposed to come into the world, it will happen now. “My role as a midwife is to support the labouring woman in a way that fits her style. To some, I may be a mother figure, to others a friend, and to others, I am the shadow in the room.”

Jodi supported a woman from one of the southern communities, who spent 15 hours in her safe room with her children during the October 7 infiltration. She was rescued and evacuated with her family to a hotel in Jerusalem. A day later, she went into labour at Shaare Zedek, with her seventh child.  She described her previous six labours as relatively quick and easy without any interventions. This birth was a different experience for her. She was exhausted and it became apparent that she needed permission and support to acknowledge her stressful experience and to take an epidural to help her relax. She then gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby.

“This reminded me of how the Jewish people will continue to fight and go forward,” says Jodi. “My work at Shaare Zedek has taken on a whole new meaning during this time. It’s a privilege to be part of such an incredible team during these challenging circumstances.”