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How the coronavirus pandemic brought one big family together

By John Kass, Tribune Content Agency on

The first thing you have to know about Bruce and Cheryl Leon is that their newborn grandchild is a healthy 10-pound baby boy. His mom, their daughter, is doing well.

Mazel tov!

"We won't know the name until the bris," Cheryl told me on Friday. "But it's a boy. We know that. Another boy. We're learning a lot about boys."

The other thing about the Leon family involves the great coronavirus shutdown.

The Leons now live in a household of 10 -- make that 11 in a few days when the baby comes home -- and things are a bit crazy. That's probably why Cheryl said she was telling me her story while sitting in a closet.

"It's a good thing she was a crisis counselor," said Bruce. "Because it's been chaos around here. I mean, we had daughters. They're different than boys. Now the house is full of boys."

 

The Leons had been living quietly in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. Two of their four daughters lived at home -- their youngest, Yael, is at a local college studying business, and Raina is a nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Daughter Liat came home from a medical college in Westchester, New York, to hunker down with her family as the pandemic took hold.

And then the eldest, Ilana Langer, who was expecting a child, came home for Purim, the holiday just before Passover, along with her husband, Shimon Langer, a rabbinical student in Israel, and their three energetic little boys, Nosson, 4, Binyamin, 3, and Avraham, 20 months. And now the fourth son.

Ilana, Shimon and their boys were only going to stay six days. That was in early March. She planned to fly home to have her baby. But with the coronavirus restrictions, they couldn't return to Israel, and then she was too far into her pregnancy to fly. You want chaos? Just try to find an obstetrician when you're nine months pregnant. But she did.

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