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Left to right, ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, Israel Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and President, ZAKA Search and Rescue USA Edward A. Mermelstein


In a small ceremony overlooking the United Nations headquarters in New York, attorney, consultant, investor and developer in New York City, Mr. Edward A. Mermelstein was appointed to serve as President of ZAKA Search and Rescue USA. The organization supports the work of the UN-recognized ZAKA International Rescue Unit, which not only offers a swift search, rescue and recovery response to mass casualty incidents around the globe, but also trains volunteers on a local basis to increase their community’s capabilities for crisis management before the arrival of international emergency forces.

“In today’s world, where natural and manmade disasters can overwhelm local emergency forces by their inordinate scope, communities deserve to receive the right training and tools necessary to save lives,” explains Mermelstein. “The importance of local teams rescuing survivors in their own region is essential, and this is precisely the solution that ZAKA Search and Rescue offers to communities throughout the United States and around the globe.”

Mermelstein continued: “Earlier this year, ZAKA trained 45 volunteers in Guatemala in light search and rescue. It was just four months later that they put that training to the test, when the Fuego volcano devastated the area. They were able to save lives, rescue trapped survivors and help recover victims in the days before the airport opened and international teams arrived.”

Present at the ceremony were, among others, ZAKA Chairman and Founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, Israel Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and ZAKA International Rescue Unit Chief Officer Mati Goldstein. A letter, signed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, commemorating the occasion and applauding the work of ZAKA in Israel and around the world was presented to Mermelstein.

Organizations and communities are invited to contact ZAKA Search and Rescue USA to implement light search and rescue training in their area.

About ZAKA International Rescue Unit

ZAKA is a global volunteer based, rescue and recovery organization. A UN-recognized international rescue organization that trains thousands of volunteers around the world, ZAKA is ready, equipped and able to respond immediately in times of major disasters. Whether responding to natural or man-made disasters, ZAKA can be counted on as a first responder, providing professional and highly skilled volunteer services. In times of tragedy, ZAKA is always the first in and the last out.

Thanks to its extensive experience at natural disasters and terror attacks around the world, ZAKA was recognized in 2005 by the United Nations as an international volunteer humanitarian organization. In 2016, ZAKA was granted advisory status at the UN as an official body, and, in the same year, the ZAKA light search and rescue training course received recognition from INSARAG (International Search and Rescue Advisory Group under the UN umbrella). ZAKA’s extensive experience at global mass casualty incidents includes, among others, Haiti, Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Nepal, Texas, Florida, Mexico and Guatemala. ZAKA cooperates with government agencies, military and civilian emergency forces to provide the fastest and most professional operational response. 

About Edward A. Mermelstein

A top-tier legal strategist, businessman, consultant, investor and developer in New York City with over 30 years of experience in the real estate business, Mr. Edward A. Mermelstein is a founding partner of One & Only Holdings, LLC and the boutique law firm Rheem Bell & Mermelstein, LLP. Originally from Ukraine, his impressive achievements and in-depth understanding of the global markets and political arena have earned him recognition as one of the 10 most influential figures in NYC real estate.

Fluent in English and Russian, Edward emigrated to the U.S. in 1976. He holds a BA from NYU and a JD from Western Michigan Law School. In 2016, Edward joined the Board of Overseers of NYU, where he maintains the Mermelstein Family Scholarship. He has served as the USA Director of the Link of Times Foundation, helping to repatriate cultural and historical valuables taken from Russia. As Chairman of COJECO, Edward helps facilitate the integration of Russian-speaking Jews into the greater American Jewish community while preserving their cultural heritage. Edward has served on the Boards of the UJA, RAJE and numerous charitable organizations. Edward lives in NYC with his wife, Rose, a Broadway producer and five-time Tony award winner, and his two sons.

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