Abigail Klein Leichman
January 2

Jerusalem is the most populous, diverse, and multifaceted city in Israel, with large populations of religious Jews and Muslims who tend to have large families.

So it’s no wonder that the city’s maternity wards are the busiest in Israel. But 2023 has broken records for births in Israel’s capital city.

Both Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Hadassah Medical Center say that a major reason for the increase is that about 12,000 evacuees from Israel’s southwest and far north have been sheltering in 50 hotels in the Jerusalem area since the war began on October 7.

During that same time period, each of these medical centers also has treated more than 400 soldiers and civilians injured in the war.

Shaare Zedek’s spokesperson said 20,950 infants were delivered at the medical center in 2023, which is about average overall, but December broke all monthly records with 1,856 deliveries.

Jerusalem hospitals report record number of births
Shira and Tsur ben Yitzhak with their midwife, Hadassah Sassi Barkai, and their New Year’s baby at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. Photo courtesy of SZMC

“We conclude another year of fruitful work,” said chief midwives Rina Dvir and Efrat Harling, who called the new mothers “heroic” for going through a birth experience during a time when many are displaced from their homes and/or coping without husbands on military reserve duty.

The first baby delivered in 2024 at Shaare Zedek was a boy born to Shira and Tsur ben Yitzhak. Shira herself was born at Shaare Zedek 26 years ago and volunteered there for a year of national service after high school.

“We wish for the new year that the people of Israel will continue to bring redemption to the world with the birth of sweet babies.”

Liat Mena, mother of Hadassah Medical Center’s first baby of 2024

At Hadassah’s Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus hospitals, about 17,000 babies were born in 2023 — an all-time hospital record and a 12% increase over 2022. in December, 1,430 births occurred at Hadassah.

Among the new arrivals were 306 pairs of twins and five sets of triplets, said Dr. David Shveiky, chief of OB/GYN at Hadassah.

“At the end of the year we experienced a challenging security period, as we took in many mothers who were evacuated from their homes, and also faced challenges in protecting the wards in compliance with the directives of the Home Front Command,” said Shveiky.

Shortly after midnight on January 1, Liat and Federico Mena welcomed Hadassah’s first baby of 2024, at the Mount Scopus campus. The Menas, residents of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha near the Gaza border, are refugees in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem hospitals report record number of births
Federico and Liat Mena, refugees from the Gaza border region, welcomed Hadassah Medical Center’s first baby of 2024. Photo courtesy of HMC

Liat spent the last trimester of her pregnancy away from home, caring for her two small children alone as her husband was serving in the reserves.

“It was a stressful time,” she said. “When our son was born, I cried a real and liberating cry of happiness. After the birth, there is a feeling of victory and hope that we will return to build our home in the kibbutz. We wish for the new year that the people of Israel will continue to bring redemption to the world with the birth of sweet babies.”

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