Joined by pandemic heartache, COVID nurses hold hospital wedding

Two COVID nurses have tied the knot at Rambam Medical Center, saying they wanted to bring joy to the hospital where they have seen so much heartache in recent months.

The pandemic has been hectic for Lazar Roif and Yevgenia Bogatov, both in their 40s, as they have worked long shifts in the coronavirus department.

Sometimes they hardly saw each other, except through Rambam’s medical monitoring system: Roif is often based in the COVID control room where cameras show him everything happening in the underground hospital, including Bogatov’s work.

But they say that the shared experience has only brought them closer, and a few months ago they started thinking about setting a date for a huppah, or religious wedding. Bogatov said they held a civil partnership ceremony two years ago, and always planned to have a religious wedding, “but it never seemed like the right time.”

Lazar Roif steps on a glass as he marries Yevgenia Bogatov in a religious ceremony at Rambam Medical Center. (courtesy of Rambam Medical Center)

Then in November, colleagues at Rambam suggested the idea of a wedding at the hospital, offered to make the arrangements, and they agreed.

“It just felt right,” Bogatov told The Times of Israel. “After everything we went through in the last year, with all the pressure and intensity, it showed us that all that as we’re fighting the pandemic, life goes on.”

The ceremony took place by Rambam’s most picturesque building, which is a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean beach line where they had their photographs taken.

Lazar Roif (left) and Yevgenia Bogatov at the coastline near Rambam Medical Center after their wedding ceremony (courtesy of Rambam Medical Center)

Rambam staff made all the arrangements, including makeup and a DJ. Hospital rabbi Avraham Pietarkovsky conducted the socially distanced ceremony, and the couple’s young daughter was among the small number of guests.

Roif remarked: ”There are no words to describe our excitement, to see so much effort by colleagues who wanted this to happen, and so much love.”

Bogatov said that their relationship has become stronger against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis. “When I come home after very long and draining shifts, I come home to someone who really understands, and this has meant a great deal,” she commented.

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