In the days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Mr. Stambler’s father, Rabbi Levi Stambler of Kamianske Synagogue, said he was in conflict over leaving his community in the midst of a crisis. After consulting with the chief rabbi in the region, who told Rabbi Stambler that family should 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 Mrs. Deutch’s brother, Shneur Deutch, 12, who studied at Dnipro, they embarked on a journey that would last more than 48 hours.
They drove towards the Ukrainian border with Moldova and were stopped at many checkpoints along the way. At one of them, Rabbi Stambler said military personnel had told him to get out of the car and accused him of being a Russian saboteur before he searched his phone and found nothing of interest. In another, his family saw someone being pulled from 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. They flew from Bucharest to New York.
“The whole time we were traveling we were on the phone with a team dealing with this crisis at home,” said Rabbi Stambler. “People need insulin, blood pressure medication and food. We need to find buses and drivers to evacuate people.”
Mr. Stambler’s brother, Shmulik Stambler, 21, a counselor at a yeshiva in Dnipro, left Ukraine a few days later with the rest of the school. He arrived in New York hours before the wedding.