In the days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Mr. Stambler’s father, Rabbi Levi Stambler of the Synagogue of Kamianske, said he was conflicted about leaving his community in the middle of a crisis. After consulting the head rabbi in the region, who told Rabbi Stambler that family has to come first, he and his wife, Dina Stambler, decided they would find a way to get to New York.
With Mr. Stambler’s sisters Rivkah Stambler, 8, and Mushi Stambler, 11, and Ms. Deutch’s brother, Shneur Deutch, 12, who was studying in Dnipro, they set out on a trip that would last more than 48 hours.
They drove toward the Ukrainian border with Moldova and were stopped at many checkpoints along the way. At one of them, Rabbi Stambler said that the military personnel told him to get out of the car and accused him of being a Russian saboteur before searching his phone and finding nothing of interest. At another, his family watched as someone was pulled out of a car and pushed to the ground to be searched.
In Moldova, they could not find any available flights. They drove on to Bucharest, Romania, where a local Jewish family took them in for the night. From Bucharest, they flew to New York.
“The whole time we were traveling, we were on the phone talking with a team at home dealing with this crisis at home,” Rabbi Stambler said. “People need insulin, blood pressure medication, and food. We need to find buses, drivers to evacuate people.”
Mr. Stambler’s brother Shmulik Stambler, 21, a counselor at a yeshiva in Dnipro, left Ukraine several days later with the rest of the school. He arrived in New York hours before the wedding.