Zaka first responders Yossi Frankel (right) and Benzi Oring pose in front of one of the organization’s emergency vehicles.
(photo credit: SAM SOKOL)
The ZAKA International Rescue Unit, an emergency first-response NGO dedicated to life-saving search and rescue missions in Israel and abroad, is holding its first telethon Thursday during an all-day broadcast on Channel 2 to mark its 30th anniversary of service and raise needed funds.
Known for dispensing critical medical aid during terrorist attacks, accidents and mass-casualty incidents, ZAKA (a Hebrew acronym for Disaster Victim Identification) has more than 3,000 volunteers in Israel and another 600 highly trained volunteers in some 20 countries.
Among its most morbid tasks include gathering the blood, clothing and body parts of Jews murdered in terrorist attacks for a proper burial.
ZAKA chairman and founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav said he hopes the anniversary will inspire donors to “adopt volunteers,” whom he described as the “heart and soul” of the organization.
“An entire encyclopedia would not suffice to sum up the scope, depth and breadth of ZAKA’s activities in Israel and around the world,” said Meshi-Zahav. “I have no doubt that it is the dedication of the ZAKA volunteers that is the real power driving the organization.
“I turn to each and every person in Israel – and our friends and supporters around the world – to adopt a volunteer this Thursday for the nominal sum of $100, or NIS 360, to ensure that they can continue to give of their heart and soul, to strengthen faith, to strengthen pride and to strengthen Israel.”
During the telethon, tributes to ZAKA volunteers will be broadcast throughout the day, from the morning into the evening hours. Among those saluting their service include government officials, artists, writers and leading figures in the business world from across the globe.
“They will salute the work of the ZAKA volunteers who come together from all sectors in Israeli society – Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, men and women – and devote their lives to helping others in need, regardless of religion or ethnicity,” said Meshi-Zahav.
In 2005, ZAKA – which is based in Jerusalem and works in close coordination with the Foreign Ministry, IDF and other government bodies – was recognized by the UN as an international humanitarian volunteer organization.
Recent ZAKA missions include the 2008 Chabad House terrorist attack in Mumbai, India; the 2010 earthquake in Haiti; the 2011 floods in Thailand; the 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Japan; the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines; the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks; the Germanwings plane crash; the France and Nepal earthquakes; and the 2016 Istanbul terrorist attack.