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13 years after saving infant, medics join ‘miracle’ bar mitzvah

Shmuel Kovetzik was born unconscious and without a pulse, and Magen David Adom medics spent a harrowing 10 minutes working to get his heart beating again.

13-year Shmuel Kovetzik (front, center) celebrating his bar mitzvah on July 19, 2023 with his family and the emergency medics who saved his life. Photo by Magen David Adom.
13-year Shmuel Kovetzik (front, center) celebrating his bar mitzvah on July 19, 2023 with his family and the emergency medics who saved his life. Photo by Magen David Adom.

In a heartwarming reunion, a team of medics were invited to the recent bar mitzvah celebration of Shmuel Kovetzik in Kfar Chabad, near Tel Aviv, whose life they saved at birth.

“We had a traumatic and difficult event that, by the grace of God, ended in a visible miracle, and since then we have been in contact with the [Magen David Adom] team, we remember them every birthday, and it was a matter of course for us to invite them to celebrate Shmuel’s bar mitzvah with us,” said Shmuel’s father, Shneor.

A bar mitzvah celebrates the coming of age for Jewish men at the age of 13. A woman celebrates her bat mitzvah at 12.

MDA is a national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service. On Sept. 11, 2010, its dispatch center received an urgent phone call about a woman in labor at her home in Kfar Chabad.

The responding team of paramedic Icho Leibovitz, medics Shnior Tsik and Oren Roni and paramedic student Mirit Halfon faced a complex and life-threatening situation. The baby was in breech position, meaning it was positioned to come out feet first.

Shmuel was born unconscious and without a pulse, so the team spent a harrowing 10 minutes working to get his heart beating again.

“It was the first time in my career that I performed CPR on a baby… just a few minutes old,” Leibovitz recalled.

“In those moments I was just thinking about how to work in the most professional way to save his life, and to my delight the difficult memory combines with the most joyful moments and the most exciting milestones of the family,” he added.

Once resuscitated, the infant was taken to the hospital. Months later, the baby was released and the MDA team was invited to celebrate the circumcision, during which baby boys are given their name.

“I remember the event like today. It happened right before Rosh Hashanah, and it was a very difficult birth. It was a very big miracle, we fought for Shmuel’s life, and I am very happy that we managed to save him,” said Tsik, who lives in Kfar Chabad and was the first medic to arrive at the house on that fateful day.

“His birth was, to this day, one of my most complex and memorable events at MDA, and every time I see him and his family on the street I remember the story and get excited anew,” he added.

Said Shneor Kovetzik, “We were excited and very happy to see again the angels in white, who came to us today calm and relaxed with a smile on their faces, and without medical equipment. I thank the MDA and the Holy One, blessed be He, for saving our child’s life, and I am already waiting for the next [joyous occasion], so that we can continue to celebrate together in the future as well.”

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