News and Events

A Gift of New Life Amidst Tragedy

Publication Date: 6/9/2024 9:00 AM

Eight months after Ofir Tzarfati was taken hostage from the Nova festival and murdered in Gaza, his sister gave birth to a son at Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam) in Haifa, Israel.

Shoval Tzarfati with her newborn son. Photography: Rambam HCC.
Shoval Tzarfati with her newborn son. Photography: Rambam HCC.

“I dreamed that I was meeting Ofir and telling him about this pregnancy, seeing the joy on his face. He knew how long we had been waiting for another child. This feels like the gift he gave us, a way to expand our hearts and find some happiness,” says Shoval Kostenko-Tzarfati, the sister of the late Ofir Tzarfati, who was taken hostage on October 7 and murdered in Gaza. Just a day after giving birth to her son at Rambam, she shared her profound emotions. “I have no doubt he watched over me throughout my pregnancy and was with me in the delivery room,” says Shoval. “This is Ofir’s way of ensuring we’ll be okay.”

For a long time, Shoval (30) and her husband Max (37) had been trying to conceive a sibling for their 3-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Emma. After two miscarriages and much heartache, Shoval discovered she was pregnant just two days before the tragic events of October 7. “We (siblings) are very close,” she says of her bond with Ofir and their younger sister, Lior (21). “I wanted to tell him, knowing he'd be happy, but I wanted to wait a bit to ensure his heart wouldn’t break if something went wrong.”

Ofir never got the chance to hear the joyous news. While rescuing friends at the Nova party, he was taken hostage by Hamas and remained there for nearly two months. In late November, the Tzarfati family was devastated to learn that Ofir had been killed. His body was identified and brought back to Israel for burial 55 days after being taken.

“Eight months have passed since then. This pregnancy felt surreal. My heart and mind were elsewhere,” Shoval recalls. “I came to give birth as if on a mission, but in the delivery room, a miracle happened. I called to Ofir and felt his presence. Seeing the baby, I suddenly felt like I could breathe, could feel love again. Everywhere I looked, I saw good eyes. My parents, who have endured so much suffering, felt it too.”

Shoval’s hospital room is adorned with pictures of Ofir and his radiant smile. “Everyone asks if I’ll name our son Ofir. Ofir will always be a big part of him. We will tell him about his uncle, and how much he is missed. But there is Ofir, and there is our son. Joy will come with him, but this is not his burden. He will be his own person, and we will ensure that Ofir and everything he was lives on within us.”