ZAKA Search and Rescue

Going to the ends of earth offering humanitarian assistance 

ZAKA Search and Rescue

Going to the ends of earth offering humanitarian assistance

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WHAT IS ZAKA?

How ZAKA began

Founded in 1995 by Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, ZAKA is Israel’s dominant non-governmental rescue and recovery organization, with over 3,000 volunteers deployed around the country, on call 24/7 to respond to any terror attack, disaster or accident immediately, professionally and with the necessary equipment. ZAKA, a civilian volunteer organization with sole responsibility in Israel for dealing with incidents of unnatural death, works in close cooperation with all the emergency services and security forces.

The seeds of the ZAKA organization were sown in 1989, when then-yeshiva student Yehuda Meshi-Zahav and his colleagues rushed to assist at the scene of the 405 bus terror attack in which 17 people were killed and scores injured. For the next six years, Meshi-Zahav headed a group of volunteers who overcame the horror of terror attacks to recover human remains and ensure a proper burial in accordance with Jewish law.

Honoring the dead  is considered an act of Chesed Shel Emes (true virtue). In Judaism, this is considered the greatest mitzva (good deed) that can be performed, because the recipient has no way of repaying the kindness.

ZAKA (the Hebrew acronym for Disaster Victim Identification) became an official volunteer organization in 1995 and has grown organically over the last two decades, finding the best solutions to the operational needs as the scope of the volunteering work increases.

ZAKA today

ZAKA today offers professional and highly-skilled volunteer services in the areas of emergency response, search and rescue, accident prevention and assistance in international disasters.

Specialist search and rescue units have been established over the years including, among others, a Motorcycle unit, K9 unit, Jeep unit, ATV unit, Jet-ski unit and Divers unit. In all cases, these units consist of highly trained volunteers, each a specialist in their own field,  bringing their skills and dedication to the organization and ensuring the fastest and most professional response to the situation.

In Israel, ZAKA has become part of the consensus, regularly ranked the most esteemed and respected organization after the IDF. ZAKA offers a framework for thousands of ultra-Orthodox (haredi) volunteers, who do not typically serve in the military, to contribute to society in a meaningful way, providing an essential service within the most professional and disciplined framework.

ZAKA has also created a bridge between the various sectors in Israeli society, with the values of volunteerism and dedication as the connecting forces. ZAKA volunteers include among their ranks Jews, Christians, Druze, Bedouin and Moslem; young and old; men and women; religious and secular. ZAKA provides assistance to all, regardless of religion, race or creed – because man is made in the divine image.

In addition to these units, ZAKA has established the ZAKA International Rescue Unit, with hundreds of volunteers in Israel and around the world, who are ready, equipped and able to respond in the fastest time to a mass casualty incident or terror attack, wherever it occurs. In 2005, ZAKA received United Nations recognition as an international humanitarian volunteer organization. ZAKA has since become a model for emergency services around the world, sharing best practices and serving as a light unto the nations in the darkest of times.

WHAT IS ZAKA?

How ZAKA began

Founded in 1995 by Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, ZAKA is Israel’s dominant non-governmental rescue and recovery organization, with over 3,000 volunteers deployed around the country, on call 24/7 to respond to any terror attack, disaster or accident immediately, professionally and with the necessary equipment. ZAKA, a civilian volunteer organization with sole responsibility in Israel for dealing with incidents of unnatural death, works in close cooperation with all the emergency services and security forces.

The seeds of the ZAKA organization were sown in 1989, when then-yeshiva student Yehuda Meshi-Zahav and his colleagues rushed to assist at the scene of the 405 bus terror attack in which 17 people were killed and scores injured. For the next six years, Meshi-Zahav headed a group of volunteers who overcame the horror of terror attacks to recover human remains and ensure a proper burial in accordance with Jewish law.

Honoring the dead  is considered an act of Chesed Shel Emes (true virtue). In Judaism, this is considered the greatest mitzva (good deed) that can be performed, because the recipient has no way of repaying the kindness.

ZAKA (the Hebrew acronym for Disaster Victim Identification) became an official volunteer organization in 1995 and has grown organically over the last two decades, finding the best solutions to the operational needs as the scope of the volunteering work increases.

ZAKA today

ZAKA today offers professional and highly-skilled volunteer services in the areas of emergency response, search and rescue, accident prevention and assistance in international disasters.

Specialist search and rescue units have been established over the years including, among others, a Motorcycle unit, k9 unit, Jeep unit, ATV unit, Jet-ski unit and Divers unit. In all cases, these units consist of highly trained volunteers, each a specialist in their own field,  bringing their skills and dedication to the organization and ensuring the fastest and most professional response to the situation.

In Israel, ZAKA has become part of the consensus, regularly ranked the most esteemed and respected organization after the IDF. ZAKA offers a framework for thousands of ultra-Orthodox (haredi) volunteers, who do not typically serve in the military, to contribute to society in a meaningful way, providing an essential service within the most professional and disciplined framework.

ZAKA has also created a bridge between the various sectors in Israeli society, with the values of volunteerism and dedication as the connecting forces. ZAKA volunteers include among their ranks Jews, Christians, Druze, Bedouin and Moslem; young and old; men and women; religious and secular. ZAKA provides assistance to all, regardless of religion, race or creed – because man is made in the divine image.

In addition to these units, ZAKA has established the ZAKA International Rescue Unit, with hundreds of volunteers in Israel and around the world, who are ready, equipped and able to respond in the fastest time to a mass casualty incident or terror attack, wherever it occurs. In 2005, ZAKA received United Nations recognition as an international humanitarian volunteer organization. ZAKA has since become a model for emergency services around the world, sharing best practices and serving as a light unto the nations in the darkest of times.

where is ZAKA?

ZAKA’s home is in Israel, but they operate all over the world, wherever they are needed.  The Jerusalem-based ZAKA International Rescue Unit operates a specially trained team of volunteer paramedics and search and rescue professionals who are on call 24/7, ready to respond in the fastest possible time to major international mass casualty incidents, wherever they may occur. Under the direction of Chief Operations Officer Mati Goldstein, the ZAKA International Rescue Unit works in close cooperation with Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the IDF and other government bodies.

ZAKA’s assistance at major international terror attacks (eg Mombasa, Istanbul and Taba) and natural disasters (eg the tsunami and the New Orleans Katrina hurricane) led the United Nations in 2005 to recognize ZAKA as an international volunteer humanitarian organization (one of only three Israeli organizations to hold this status).

ZAKA in israel

ZAKA is always prepared for any emergency. They are routinely the first to respond to terror attacks and major accidents – besides being the de facto search and rescue organization in Israel

ZAKA around the world

ZAKA responds to emergencies around the world – bringing their incredible search and rescue capabilities and saving thousands of lives.

World Leaders Speak About ZAKA

ZAKA Chairman Meshi-Zahav told me that ‘We save anyone who needs to be saved, and honor all people equally’. I can think of few more profound ways to define the mission not only of humanitarians, but of anyone who believes in the principles of equality, human rights, and dignity, that the UN was created to uphold.

Samantha Power

US Ambassador to the UN

I would like to thank you all for the important work that you are doing and to encourage you to continue. You work to rescue people buried in the ruins, people who needed an outstretched arm, and that hand was yours.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister of Israel

Your work in the devastated areas after the tsunami and earthquake and your specialist knowledge and assistance was much appreciated by the emergency services with whom you worked in the field. We in the Japanese Embassy have great esteem for the humanitarian endeavors of the ZAKA organization.

Haruhisa Takeuchi

Japanese Ambassador

Zaka in the Media

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04.01.2018

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK FOR ZAKA RESCUE UNIT

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17.02.2016

‘The moralists are wrong – we won’t apologize’

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15.02.2016

ZAKA volunteers in the field – even under fire

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06.01.2016

ZAKA Chairman and
Founder

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26.01.2016

Behind every
ZAKA volunteer is
a traumatized
wife

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16.02.2016

Message From ZAKA Volunteer About
Dangers Of WhatsApp Goes Viral On WhatsApp

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13.01.2015

French ZAKA team
aids in sending
victims’ bodies to
Israel

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26.01.2016

With Thousands of
Volunteers Worldwide,
Organization ZAKA is the Top International Search

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06.01.2016

ZAKA

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06.01.2016

Wounded Terrorists

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15.02.2016

ZAKA in the field

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04.01.2016

ZAKA rescues Baltimore

ZAKA Units

ZAKA takes great pride in it’s dedication to saving lives. In their years of service, ZAKA has accumulated knowledge and experience from every situation – and have leveraged their knowledge to develop units to respond to every kind of crisis. 

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Chesed Shel Emes
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Jeep Unit
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Divers Unit
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Jet Ski Unit
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K9 Unit
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Rapid Rescue Unit

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