For first time, gov’t to grant funds to ZAKA

Money will go toward round-the-clock efforts to help victims of disasters, as well as the recruitment of new volunteers.

By
October 25, 2012 05:10
2 minute read.
ZAKA volunteer at site of csr crash

ZAKA volunteer at site of csr crash 370. (photo credit: Boaz Ben-Ari)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

ZAKA, the voluntary rescue and recovery organization, will for the first time receive funding from the Treasury, according to a decision made Wednesday by the social cabinet.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz chairs the body.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The decision did not name ZAKA – which was founded during the second intifada – as the sole recipient, or state the size of the allocations, but described the organization’s activities in handling deceased people who were victims of incidents resulting in unnatural deaths. The money will go toward round-the-clock efforts to help victims of disasters, as well as the recruitment of new volunteers.

ZAKA brings together emergency response teams, most of them Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox, each operating in a police district. The organization is officially recognized by the government for identification of victims of terrorism, road accidents and other disasters, and when necessary, gathering body parts and spilled blood for proper burial.

It also provides first aid and rescue services, and aids in the search for missing persons as well as international rescue and recovery operations. The volunteers are dedicated to ensuring that the bodies of Jewish victims are buried according to Jewish law.

After terror attacks, ZAKA volunteers also collect the bodies and body parts of non-Jews, including suicide bombers, for return to their families. The organization has some 1,500 members, many of whom are also trained medics or paramedics.

The organization preceding ZAKA was founded when a group of volunteers, under the leadership of Rabbi Elazar Gelbstein, gathered to assist in the recovery of human remains from a terrorist attack on Israeli bus line 405 in 1989. The ZAKA network was then established in the early 1990s.



Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, Rabbi Moshe Aizenbach and Tel Aviv Zaka director Rabbi Zvika Rosental founded the Jerusalem ZAKA organization in the 1990s.

The organization is most identified with Meshi-Zahav, who was raised as a member of the anti-Zionist Eda Haredit, and organized protests and sometimes violent incidents against the police and others. Through his volunteer work, Meshi-Zahav became moderate and even agreed to light an honorary beacon on Israel’s 55th anniversary of independence.

ZAKA members deal with an average of 38 deceased persons daily. But as terror attacks have waned in recent years, donations declined, and management problems resulted in deficits that nearly closed the organization. A recovery program put ZAKA back on track, but with government donations, its future will be ensured.

In 2004 and 2005, ZAKA volunteers provided assistance in Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. In November 2008, ZAKA volunteers went to Mumbai, India, following terrorist attacks that included a Jewish center among its targets.

Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, a six-man ZAKA international search and rescue unit was dispatched to Haiti. Teams of ZAKA volunteers were also sent to Japan in March 2011 to assist in search-and-rescue after a devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Related Content

Lab
August 31, 2014
Weizmann scientists bring nature back to artificially selected lab mice

By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH