Chesed Shel Emes
True virtue (Chesed Shel Emes) – this is the highly visible and emotionally distressing work for which ZAKA is best known. This is a unique unit with a unique mission – to honor the dead and ensure a full Jewish burial for those who meet a sudden death, by collecting spilled blood and body parts at the terror or accident site.
The ZAKA volunteers are professionally trained in all aspects of their work related to identification of the deceased, preserving the honor of the dead and ensuring a full and proper Jewish burial. ZAKA is the only organization authorized by the Israel Police to handle any and every incident of sudden death, be it traffic accidents, murder, suicide, terror attacks, mass casualty incidents or natural disasters.
ZAKA volunteers attend professional training courses and work in cooperation with the Israel Police and its Forensics Department, the Home Front Command and the National Center of Forensic Medicine (Abu Kabir). They study everything related to identifying the deceased: how to keep a crime scene sterile, taking fingerprints; DNA testing; dental testing; forensics and Jewish law.
ZAKA volunteers learn and practice body identification in accordance with the latest professional verification techniques and Jewish law. In the course of their work, the volunteers use the most advanced equipment in order to identify the bodies and body parts beyond any doubt, thereby avoiding any halachic uncertainty and unnecessary distress.
By virtue of their unique experience, ZAKA volunteers also operate in similar circumstances around the world, helping Jews or Israelis wherever they may be caught up in natural disasters or mass casualty incidents. In addition, ZAKA often acts upon requests from families who are experiencing difficulties with the local authorities overseas as they try to repatriate the body of their loved ones.
Chesed shel Emes is the ultimate act of loving kindness and altruism (performing a deed for which the recipient cannot express gratitude), and is the very hallmark and foundation of ZAKA.